Beth Adele Long (Destroyer)
Were there any particular writers or stories that influenced the writing of the story that will be appearing in Trampoline? If so, how exactly did they influence the writing of your story?
Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” provided the overall structure of the story. Thus “Destroyer” began as a writing exercise in which I intended to follow O’Connor’s story scene by scene, but as the story developed, I realized that the set-up I had originally envisioned would have been completely wrong-headed. The structural and even thematic links are still obviously there, but morphed into something quite distinct.
Is your Trampoline story generally representative of the sort of story you usually write? To elaborate: is this story a departure in style or subject matter (or any other sort of departure, for that matter) for you? If so, what was different or new for you in the writing of this story? Do you think it is a new direction for your writing, or simply an experiment?
My writing style seems to have as much direction as a drunken housefly; lots of directions, but none of them consistent or predictable. But this story is representative of my usual sort of story in that I tried to be as true and naked and real as I could manage, which was particularly excruciating in this story.
What’s your favorite cocktail?
Long Island Iced Tea
Which of the seven deadly sins is your favorite these days?
Hmmm…let me get back to you on that one. Still trying them on for size.
What’s your favorite rule of thumb?
No pain, no pain.
So, come out with it, already — you really believe in alien abductions. Don’t you? All sci-fi writers do…right?
What? We’ve been abducting aliens?
Who’s been eating my porridge?
Where have all the flowers gone?
I believe they followed the cowboys.
Does she or doesn’t she?
Whichever she pleases.
Did he ever return?
Yes, but he was never the same.
Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
What’s your record for consecutively asked questions?
What is sharper than the thorn?
The false rose.
What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
The eye of the tyger.
What have you done with Dr. Millmoss?
Fed him to a hippo as punishment for eating your porridge.
Where is fancy bred?
What book or books do you press upon friends?
Stranger Things Happen, Kelly Link
Clouds End, Sean Stewart
The Magician’s Assistant, Ann Patchett
What can we, as a group, do to increase the popularity of multi-stage bicycle racing as a spectator sport in America?
Encourage the use of hallucinogenics?
I once had a creative writing teacher tell me that he didn’t understand why authors used science fiction or magical realism to tell a story or impart a theme. Why do you think we do, when good old realism might do the trick?
Why eat creme brulee when you could eat Twinkies?
Have you found that during the Reagan-Bush-Bush-Quayle-Bush-Cheney era the quality of your writing has gotten a little dodgier?
Why not… what hasn’t gotten dodgier?
What is the meaning of life?
Office supplies & summer mornings.
Can you say something, particularly in light of these grave times, about the writer’s role or responsibility in the creation of work that is purely literary, that is the work of the imagination, as opposed to work that serves more overtly and diras a voice of conscience?
Work that is purely imaginary, that is the work of the imagination and not of dogma, that emerges from the soul instead of being shaped out of held notions and inherited conceptions – this is the work that feeds true conscience and gives us hope of understanding that Other is none other than Self.
Gertrude Stein said: “I have destroyed sentences and rhythms and literary overtones and all the rest of that nonsense, to get to the very core of this problem of communication of intuition.” The relationship of form to content. Form as it facilitates communication, particularly communication of the remote, of the mysterious. Form as it permits the dramatization of states of mind. As it serves to make comprehensible the incomprehensible. What are your views on this subject?
Beth’s Simplified Dichotomy of Approaches to Form:
Approach 1: Jokes are funny. A joke has a set-up and a punchline. If it has a set-up and a punchline, it is funny.
Approach 2: If it makes me laugh, it’s funny.
I subscribe to Approach 2.
Next — Christopher Rowe