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Smoking With Laura Stallard Petza

(Read the Story) September 15, 2005

Laura Stallard Petza

Art by Marty D. Ison

I love that “maybe I’m evil” thought. How did you capture that sense of childhood so well?

As a kid, I definitely felt evil on occasion (my baby doll always made me feel evil, because her cuteness made me want to ride over her face with my bike), and even now I sometimes worry that I’m not kind or giving or compassionate enough. It’s nice to hear that I captured a sense of childhood, but I think I was half-consciously reflecting on my adulthood, too.

That “nothing’s different” haunts me still. Is it risky to write such an ending?

I don’t know. It is sort of an anti-revelation, isn’t it? I guess I was thinking of myself as a kid, and how resistant I was to change and getting older. Adolescence is such a murky business; you can’t blame a girl for wanting to avoid it.

What drew you to the flash form?

My children. Most of my writing is done during naptimes, and sometimes in crayon, so I have to keep the storytelling brief. Actually, to be fair, I was attracted to the flash form before the kids were born. I love eavesdropping (who doesn’t?), and I’ve always found flash to be the literary equivalent.

What have been the elements of your summers?

In early summer, lightning bugs. In late summer, crickets. Lots of mosquitoes in between.

What’s it like to be a native Baltimorean? (I think I made the word up.)

Rest assured, Baltimorean is a real word. And to answer your question, it’s not so bad being a native. Sure, we could use better public transportation, as well as lower murder and Chlamydia rates, but great museums and restaurants abound, and in the summer, there are lots of sno-ball stands.

About the Author

A native of Baltimore, Laura Stallard Petza still enjoys thunderstorms and sky-blue sno-balls with marshmallow, just as she did in all of the summers of her childhood. She lives with her husband, Thomas; her two small children, Elyse and Felix; and her two woefully neglected cats.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

This interview appeared in Issue Ten of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Ten
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"The Shape of Things: Movement, Momentum, and Dimension in Flash CNF" with Steve Edwards

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From sentence-level craft concerns to questions of overall approach, this 90-minute webinar will explore strategies for adding shape, intensity, and depth to your flash creative nonfiction.

Steve Edwards is author of the memoir BREAKING INTO THE BACKCOUNTRY, the story of his seven months as caretaker of a 95-acre backcountry homestead along federally protected Wild and Scenic Rogue River in Oregon. His work has appeared in Orion MagazineThe Sun MagazineLiterary HubElectric LiteratureThe Rumpus, and elsewhere. He lives outside Boston with his wife and son.