×

SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page

Smoking With Kyle Hemmings

Interview by Meg Pokrass (Read the Story) March 29, 2015

Can you talk a little about your piece? What inspired you to write Gertie?
Yes. I was thinking about the past lately, my own past, and how some people who you haven’t seen in ages, or will never see again, can never vanish from your imagined life. How they still exert a strong influence on you from some time long ago, or maybe, not so long ago. But even though they’re not “real” as far as the present is concerned, they are very much there, aren’t they?

Is the character of Gertie based on any specific character in your own life?
No, I would say she is a composite of nice and not so nice authority figures in my youth and the child molestation bit was something thrown in, but very crucial to the narrator’s feeling of being uprooted, of being aimless, having this heavy baggage to carry. By the way, in an earlier version, I had this taking place around the time of the second world war to give it both a sense of urgency, but also to give it that post-war sense of uprooted-ness, of values being cast aside, of railroads never reaching destinations.

Why did you end this piece on an ambiguous note with Gertie thinking of the sea.
Well, I wanted the reader to interpret this anyway they like, but I think at the end the sea for Gertie means there are other possibilities, perhaps a life of travel, or different ways of relating to people.I don’t see her as totally evil, as she has lost her husband and has her own baggage to contend with. But you can see the effect of the damage from this relationship on the narrator. But like so many things in life, those that inflict damage get away, and the victims keep suffering. Life is unfair and often cruel.

As you wrote the piece, did you judge Gertie? Do you sit apart from judgment toward an abusive character… as the creator?
Yes, I suppose I sit away a bit. I don’t see Gertie as evil, as she has lost her husband and has her own baggage to contend with. But you can see the effect of the damage from this relationship on the narrator. But like so many things in life, those that inflict damage get away, and the victims keep suffering. Life is unfair and often cruel.

In a previous interview with Smokelong, you said your favorite album of all time was Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys. Is that still true?
Let me revise that somewhat. I think the best album of all time was Love’s Forever Changes. Pet Sounds was one of the best albums of all time.

About the Author

Kyle Hemmings lives in New Jersey. His work has been featured in Five Fishes, FourPaperLetters, Lacuna Journal, and others.

About the Interviewer

Meg Pokrass lives in San Francisco with her husband and daughter. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in 971 Menu, The Rose and Thorn, Thieves Jargon, Eclectica, Chanterelle’s Notebook, 34th Parallel, Literary Mama, Blossombones, and Elimae. She has performed with theatre companies throughout the United States and considers writing a natural extension of sensory work developed as an actor.

About the Artist

Joaquin Villaverde on Flickr.

This interview appeared in Issue Twenty-Eight of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Eight
ornament

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

A SmokeLong Summer

May 30-Aug 28!


From May 30 to August 28 2022, SmokeLong is going to host a superworkshop. We want to spend the summer with you, the flash community. Our workshops take place on a devoted website where you can create a profile, interact with the flash community, and take part in group discussions on craft, but A SmokeLong Summer will be much more.