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Smoking With Stephen Gardner

Interview by Colleen Kearney Rich (Read the Story) June 26, 2012

Stephen Gardner

art by Claire Callister

What I really liked about this story was the noir feel of it. Do you like noir or write a lot of it?

More of a fan than a writer. I love Dashiell Hammett and Ross MacDonald, but if I try too hard to write in that hardboiled style for too long it can come off soft, even imitative. One day, when I finally conquer the impulse to civilize my characters, it would be fun to do more noir.

Your story is set in the 1930s. It isn’t often you see flash fiction set in a different time period. Any particular reason for that? Is it maybe part of a larger piece?

To me, noir is always composed in black and white. Having had classic noirs like The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon seared into my brain at an impressionable age, that’s how I see it in my mind’s eye, so the 1930s seemed like a natural setting for this story.

You are also working on a novel. How do you go about shifting gears between writing longer and shorter works?

Switching from my longer work to shorter ones is a great way to cleanse the palette. When the creative well runs dry as I’m writing my novel, I find that delving into an unrelated story works wonders when it comes to getting my mojo back.

Do we ever find out what Mona has done?

Even if I did know (which I don’t), I wouldn’t tell, not least of all because that answer is not important to me. Not to be cryptic like Mona, but what I like is that moment, that incident in the police station, which only brushes on the past. What is interesting to me is the intersection of these characters at a particular moment of time, when we’re denied full disclosure. Beside if I showed all of my cards, where would the fun be in that?

About the Author

Stephen Gardner is a full-time copywriter hard at work on his first novel. Although he lives in South Philadelphia, he should not be confused with Rocky Balboa.

About the Interviewer

One of the founding editors of the literary magazine So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, Colleen Kearney Rich is currently a reviews editor for Literary Mama. Her writing has been published in the Washington Post, Phoebe, Minerva Rising, and the anthology Amazing Graces: Yet Another Collection of Fiction by Washington Area Women, among others. She lives in Virginia and is at work on a novel.

About the Artist

Claire Callister is a native Californian who has been involved in art since the age of 10. Throughout her travels in the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, she has honed her skills in illustration, primarily specializing in black and white pen-and-ink renderings. She graduated from Chapman University in Orange County, California, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

This interview appeared in Issue Thirty-Six of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Six

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