Megan Giddings was this year’s runner-up for the Kathy Fish Fellowship at SmokeLong. You will see stories from her in the next four issues of SmokeLong Quarterly, starting with “Be Excellent to One Another.”
Here senior editor Tara Laskowski picks her brain a little:
Why did you decide to apply for the Kathy Fish Fellowship?
I applied to the Kathy Fish Fellowship because I’d tried to get published by SmokeLong in the past and while the story wasn’t accepted, I did get some pretty strong feedback. I also can’t think of any other literary magazine that actually offers to mentor someone. And there aren’t a lot of people out there that know and understand flash fiction like SmokeLong does. Also, Also, it was free.
What do you hope to accomplish over the next year with your writing?
OK, this is going to sound like I’m joking and maybe I am like five percent joking when I say this. But recently in that Kanye West interview in the New York Times, he said this about a fashion designer: “But ultimately, this guy that was talking to me doesn’t make Christmas presents, meaning that nobody was asking for his [stuff] as a Christmas present. If you don’t make Christmas presents, meaning making something that’s so emotionally connected to people, don’t talk to me.” And I felt so weird because somehow Kanye West, that talented lunatic, encapsulated exactly what I wanted to learn how to do as a writer. I want to write a story so good that you could give it to someone as a Christmas present and then the person that received it just falls head over heels in love with it.
You’re in an MFA program. Can you talk about your experience with the MFA? What’s been the biggest surprise and what’s been the biggest disappointment?
I actually haven’t started my MFA program yet. I just finished an MA at Miami University. The biggest surprise for me was that I realized I was one of those people who is just more productive when she has a million things to do and think about. I mean, I’m leaving that program with a 160-page story collection and a novel. That’s crazy.
The biggest disappointment for me is to get stuff done, I can’t be that person who’s always ready to hang out or go to the party. I know I would rather be the person writing than the person at the party. But sometimes, I think about all the fun that all my friends on Facebook seem to always be having and I think about what I was doing at that time and I was staring at a screen arguing with myself about what word sounds better. No one wants to look at a picture of that.
If you were going to describe your writing style in five words, what would you say?
Wants to be Donald Bartheleme
What would surprise people to know about you?
I’ve never really been out of the United States. I’m from Michigan and I’ve been to Canada, but at least to me, Ontario feels like Michigan with nicer people and less misery.
I say, “Let’s go have a drink!” What do you order? (Especially if the tab is on me.)
I order a gin martini, up, dry, with olives. Some of the chattiest and happiest moments of my adult-life have been pretty gin-soaked.
One of the things we loved about the stories in your application was the subtle humor in some of the stories. Do you find it hard to write funny? Why or why not?
I do find it hard to write with a sense of humor. My default setting is pretty melancholy. But I find writing that is unrelentingly grim and not at all funny can get really tiring and can lose me as a reader (although, I do find writing that is trying too hard to be funny even more exhausting). It’s also something I’ve been working on. One of my teachers at Miami told me as long as you can be funny on the page, you’ll always find someone who’ll want to read what you’re writing.
Speaking of stories, where can we find other Megan Giddings’ stories?
- “You’re an Ugly Crier”- The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review (Fall 2012):
- “Dracula in Six Movements” – Knee-Jerk Magazine (October 31st 2012):
- “The Black Stallion Exposed (3 Flash Fiction Pieces about Horses)” – Ghost Ocean Magazine (September 2012)
- “The Tragic Jet-Ski Accident of 2011” – > kill author Issue Nineteen