Five Questions With Megan Giddings

Kirby Johnson: First off, I’d like to say that your story, “Dream Lover” in Volume 8 Number 1 is one of my favorite pieces in the whole issue, and I am reminded of so many things when I read it: the newish, weird fascination with my little pony; Cosmopolitan magazine’s endless supply of new sex positions; and most importantly—how essential the narratives we create to escape, or cope with, the “real” world can be. Can you tell me a little about your inspiration for this piece?

Megan Giddings: I think I’ve always been a little influenced by Cosmo’s sex tips because they’re creative, they’re hilarious, they’re imaginative, and even though they can be pretty dumb, they’re written in a style where it’s hard to stop reading. But I’ve also been thinking a lot about desire and how desire leads to myth-making. For a while I just wanted this story to be about someone normal, but out of bounds. And when that didn’t work, I said fuck it and made him a centaur.

KJ: Do you keep a dream journal or a diary like the character in your story?

MG: I do. Early this year, I took a poetry workshop with Cathy Bowman and she required us all to keep journals (dreams, images, responses, words, and probably one I’ve forgotten). I’ve since learned that I have a lot of weird plant-related dreams. Like a tomato made to look like a balloon dog. That kinda thing

KJ: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience being the Writer-in-Residence at SmokeLong Quarterly?

megancontributorphoto (2)MG: With the fellowship, it guaranteed me four publications within the span of a year from SmokeLong, but also in-depth workshops of the flash pieces from almost everyone. It was a little overwhelming; like it became really clear how differently the SmokeLong staff views flash and what a story should do. But it also helped me make further considerations about audience and work more toward precision. If we (I’m now staff-editing at SmokeLong) can offer the Fish Fellowship again in the near future, I think any writer who loves flash and hasn’t been published yet in SmokeLong should go for it. It definitely changed me as a writer. And while everyone at SmokeLong is great, you need to have Tara Laskowski as someone who will regularly read your work. She’s honest and insightful and kind.

KJ: Who are the writers (flash fiction or otherwise) that you most admire, and what qualities drew you to their work?

MG: One is my friend/former workshop mate Annie Bilancini. She’s the first person who told me to try flash and made me read Amelia Gray’s Museum of the Weird. And from there for shorter works (if we did everything, it would be too much. I love to love things), I’ve been really into Bartheleme, Caren Beilin, Sawako Nakayasu, Renata Adler’s Speedboat. And not really a short writer, but Kelly Link. I spent most of the summer reading two of her collections multiple times. I also recently read Kathleen Founds’ When Mystical Creatures Attack and can’t stop thinking about it. What I like most is a writer who can take something unusual and make it understandable. And if they can give me an image to think about over and over again, I’ll probably love them forever.

KJ: What are you working on now?

MG: I’m writing a novel about anxiety and psychic powers. I’m working on a story collection that’s working with absences and magic and relationships that I’m hoping will be my thesis collection. And I’m starting to work on collaborative projects with people. Writing is fun (sometimes).

Megan Giddings is currently an MFA student at Indiana University. She was a 2013-2014 Kathy Fish Fellow and Writer-in-Residence at SmokeLong Quarterly. She has most recently been published in The Masters Review, The Literary Review, and The Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Journal.