SmokeLong Quarterly

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Smoking With Tiff Holland

(Read the Story) September 28, 2009

Tiff Holland

Gallaher's Cigarette Card - Boy Scout Series "Sucking Poison from a Dog Bite"

Tiff, the main character in this piece is an iconoclast, and someone people who grew up feeling different will strongly identify with. Is this character (at least loosely) based on you?

Yes, this character is based on me. This piece is a fictionalized account of my mother’s first meeting with my ex-husband. Guess that’s why I married my ex—he could stand up to my mother.

The tension between the mother and the narrator is consistent throughout. It’s also very humorous! The girl drives her mother “crazy,” and seems to almost thrill on it. Is this something that you experienced growing up? I’m wondering because it feels so emotionally true.

In real life, my mother hated that I was a jock and had no interest in my appearance. She owned a beauty shop and that drove me crazy. Mom was always singing and telling me who to be. She actually complained that I read too much! So, I’m familiar with this dynamic, to say the least!

How does power in this family’s structure tilt within the story?

At the beginning at least, the girl is just an observer caught between an initial encounter between two people who she feels are more powerful- the boy because he has the guns, the mother because she knows the mother’s power. The main character is amazed the boy holds his own with the mother whereas she “works around” the mother.I’m glad the voice seems reliable. Any lies the narrator tells she’s learned to tell out of necessity.

Have you written/are you writing more stories based loosely on yourself and your family?

I have already written a number of stories with both the mother and the daughter (together and separately) some based more on fact, others more on fiction. The beauty shop alone (a haven for local transvestites) provides tons of material.

How is your process different when writing flash fiction versus writing poetry?

I “write my way into” fiction- flash or longer stories. Poems occur to me. They’re born whole. I write them down when I can’t bear for them to be under my skin any longer. I do try to insert poetry in my prose, and those parts tend to come to me whole. I find myself typing as fast as I can to keep up.

About the Author

Tiff lives in central Texas with her husband and daughter. Her work regularly appeared in literary magazines, e-zines and anthologies and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook Straight Out of the Can was a semi-finalist for this year’s Rose Metal Press Chapbook contest, and her poetry chapbook Bone In a Tin Funnel is available through Pudding House Press.

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

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