SmokeLong Quarterly

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Smoking With Tracy Gonzalez

Interview by Jason Jordan (Read the Story) March 29, 2011

Tracy Gonzalez

Smoke Stacks by Ed Luschei

My reading for SmokeLong was blind, so I didn’t know anything whatsoever about those who submitted. When I read “We Walk Away, the Three of Us,” I assumed the writer was a man because of the nature of the piece. The fact that it begins “I am a guy” also contributed to my assumption. Do you often write from a male’s perspective? What’s the most difficult thing about writing in the opposite gender?

It’s funny how we assume things while reading.  If it’s not a given, I often assume the gender of the main character is the same as the writer’s for some reason.  I like that, as a writer, you can take on the role of anyone.  Heck, you can take on the role of a baked potato.  Whether you do it well or not is another story.

I guess most of my stories are from a woman’s perspective.  But not every story I write calls for a female, so I have no choice but to write from a male perspective.  I’ve never felt it was difficult.  I grew up with two brothers and I tend to gravitate towards males; their energy always seems less threatening to me than a female’s.  I don’t have a penis, but I do my best.

What gave you the idea for this story? Did you envision a back story that details what these people are fighting about and why?

I watched a movie where Viggo Mortenson was fighting a dude while naked in a sauna.  It was fascinating. It made me think about how ridiculous the naked male body is in regard to that particular situation; fighting for one’s life.  Sure, he was managing to kick some ass, but the way his penis was flopping about just seemed contradictory; the strength of a man is not adequately reflected in a flaccid penis.  To me, he would’ve seemed more dangerous and threatening if he had been fighting with an erection.

I guess, in my story, the pipe is the erection, is his strength, is NOT the disappointment he has hanging limply off his own body in a shameful, albeit natural, way.  In the end, he makes a choice to retain that strength.

I feel bad for his penis.

How would you say the story changed from first draft to final draft? Were there any major changes?

This story came out easy and fast.  Minor tweaks, and I felt it was ready.  I wish they could all be born this way.

Did you shop this story anywhere else first or simultaneously? I’m especially curious because you’re a writer who hasn’t (yet) published widely and SmokeLong isn’t easy to get into, which strikes me as a particularly noteworthy accomplishment.

I actually only sent this to Smokelong in a “what the heck” sort of way. I mean, I obviously thought there was something worthy about the story, but, truthfully, I didn’t think there was a chance in hell that they would accept a story that had so much “penis” in it, but there was something in me that said, “try” and so I did.

I remember when the acceptance came, I read it as a rejection because I was 98% sure that’s what I would get.  I seriously had to read it a second time before my brain processed it correctly.  (I also might’ve done The Happy Dance immediately after.)

What are you reading these days? What are you working on?

I am not reading enough.  I have stacks of books on my nightstand I am waiting to get to.   I am working on something that might become a book.  Time will tell.


About the Author

Tracy Gonzalez is trying new things. Visit her at trust-fall.blogspot.com.

About the Interviewer

Jason Jordan holds an MFA from Chatham University. His books are Cloud and Other Stories (Six Gallery Press, 2010) and Powering the Devil’s Circus: Redux (Six Gallery Press, 2010). His prose has appeared online and in print in many literary magazines.

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

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