One thing I’ve noticed in your writing is both an awareness of body and an ambiguity about where the boundaries of a person are. Death? The little woman in the thigh? Is this a fair observation?
I think that’s a more than fair observation! I’ve been thinking a lot about when I do feel moments of dissonance between me and my body; I’m still getting over a bout of pneumonia I had in December—that feels so old-fashioned to say, a bout of pneumonia—and how outraged I am that every time I cough I become hyper aware from lungs to stomach to throat of how much of a body I have. And I’ve been trying to think about it in a positive sense, too, of when having a body is wonderful (great sex, drinking a milkshake, hot tubs, warm wind). But also the moments where I forget having a body. I was walking home today and it felt like spring here in Indiana—birds chirping, sunshine, the whole thing—and walking and listening to music made me forget that my body was even there.
Anyway, thinking about writing, it’s something that I’m trying to consider and find. I feel like you can know a lot about a character just by how much or little she’s considering her body in a moment.
In one of your interviews, you brought up the idea that everyone has a secret. Does this character have one? And is she even aware of it?
I think for this character, she has a lot of secrets. I think like a lot of people, she has things that are deliberately secrets and some things that until she says them aloud or deliberately thinks about them, she doesn’t realize how much work she’s done to keep things hidden.
You’ve been reading a lot of stories for SmokeLong Quarterly. Has this experience affected you as a writer or a reader?
It’s been a really great experience. It’s forced me to consider what I value in a story. I’ve found more and more that what I admire most in the majority of fiction that SmokeLong publishes is fearlessness. There’s not a sense of hedging or backing away from emotions or concepts. It’s made me want to be a bolder writer.
I was intrigued by the sentence that ends, “…you just want the tiny woman gone, brain pancake.” Since this is in second person, is the narrator colluding with the little woman, and calling the main character a brain pancake? Or have the little woman’s chants become so ubiquitous that even the narrator picks them up?
I wanted it to feel like a mix of the chants becoming so ubiquitous that the narrator picks them up, but also, you know that feeling of anxiety where it feels like everything is getting slightly distorted so going all the way back to the first question, the sense of the body, the brain saturating into other areas.