I started writing poems, very short plays and long letters as a young child. However, I started writing short stories in English about twenty years ago. Sharing and publishing them felt like opening a window to the world from my corner in Brazil.
What drew you to write short fiction/ flash fiction rather than longer works?
I started with flash fiction, when it hadn’t yet been named so. My inner rhythm found its compatible venue in these tiny stories. Over time, I became interested in the possibilities of other genres, and now I write the way I feel that fits certain work best.
Where did you get the inspiration for Life Reflection Over Blues?
The title came to me within a brief moment, but I gave it to a blog, first. But then, I realized it summarized the spirit of this collection. The blues is present in it, because, after all, I’m writing about this life, this world, and it’s one hell of a universe. However, in many moments, the prism of the absurd and the imaginary, of fun or critical humor is here as well. This combination is a way to cope and to write, and the readers are invited into it.
Is it a follow up of your first book, Life In, Life Out?
Light Reflection Over Blues has certain themes in common with Life In, Life Out. It speaks of love, loss, boundaries, belonging and solitude. In a way, the stories written here reflect on the evolution of my understanding of these aspects of life. I try even harder not to blink at pain or shut off vulnerability but include them lovingly.
What differences are there between the two collections?
The first difference you’d notice in Light Reflection Over Blues is an addition of expressive, marvelous illustrations by Revital Lessick to echo and reflect the stories. Light Reflection Over Blues also differs from my first collection in its chronological order, an ongoing narrative that sheds light on age and experience. In addition, this book embraces longer pieces, in which fragments give continuity to one another and complement the whole.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I am lucky to have “a room of my own” as Virginia Woolf named that private, quiet place where a woman can avoid distractions and focus on her writing. Clearly, life bursts in, either called or uncalled, but my little office, full of books, pictures of the women of my family and objects I’ve collected over the years, is one of my favorite corners in the world.
Do you have a writing schedule?
I keep trying to plan my day so it includes a lot of writing, but I frequently stray from the plan. However, I sit at the computer most days, and do my best to write, revise, edit or deal with other aspects of the writing life. The mind flows better when I manage to leave everything else outside. Having said that, breaks from writing are very important to me as well. During times of travel (I hope so much it’ll be possible again!) or other intense activity, I let myself absorb the experience, without putting words to the paper. The words come afterwards, usually unrelated to the fact themselves, as if they’ve been there all along.
Who is your mentor/supporter?
I exchange literary texts with friends from the writing community, and I am open for a conversation with smart, honest, literary-driven people. My friends, members of the writing community in Zoetrope.com, Francis Ford Coppola’s virtual workshop, and within its offices “A Hell of a Universe, Vacancies”, “Hot Pants” and “No Forcing the Sea” have always been a source of inspiration, support and wisdom.
Would you consider writing a novel? If so, which genre would it be?
I have a complete novel called “Baby Harvest” and another one in stages of revision, called “Puzzled.” Both of them are literary, and very different from each other. I also keep writing flashes and stories, and I’d love to have both novels and story collections out.
Have you won awards for your writing?
My work won the Margaret Atwood Studies Magazine Prize, a story was placed first in The Hawthorne Citation Short Story Contest, and my story collections were finalists for the Iowa Fiction award. My flashes have been twice listed in Best of the WEB, Wigleaf. A flash of mine has been chosen for Best Fictions 2020, and another for Norton’s International Flash Fiction. Apart from this, I have been nominated for the Pushcart Award six times.
Where can readers find you on social media/website?
I am on Facebook quite regularly, and I have an Instagram account. I am also trying to put my brain around Twitter. It’s fairly easy to find me.
Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
I am glad you are reading books published by small presses! I’m honored to be published by Ravenna Press, and after the past tough years, they need you. Also, I am happy for every single reader, who finds something in my book to keep close to heart.
Avital Gad-Cykman is the author of the flash collection “Life In, Life Out” (Matter Press) and the collection of short prose “Light Reflection Over Blues” (Ravenna Press). http://ravennapress.com/books/light-reflection-over-blues/ Her work has appeared in The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Ambit (UK), The Literary Review, CALYX Journal, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Prism International, Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere. Her PhD in English Literature focuses on women authors, gender, minorities and trauma studies. She grew up in Israel, and lives in Brazil.
As I continue my six week writing course, I am sharing my third submission with you. This week is the sense of TOUCH
Veronique relished the feel of the pale champagne coloured silk sheets as she woke up and stretched. The smooth fabric gliding over her golden skin, silky, fine and decadent. A reflection of the way Veronique demanded to live. Hers was a life of luxury, of the finer things and endless opulence. Every fabric she wore was chosen for its texture and appearance. Silks, Indian cottons, furs, cashmere, leather and high tread count linens. She reveled in the sensation of these fabrics on her skin, the way they flowed around her slender body and complimented her long tresses of burnished copper hair. Her body was smooth, tanned and hydrated, constantly pampered and devoid of blemishes or marks. Veronique stood up, her feet sinking into the deep wool carpet, like a soft hug. She gazed at her naked body in the wall length mirrors of her boudoir, the polished glass surfaces cool to the touch – she was perfect.
The heavy plush velvet drapes were drawn apart by the slimmest of gaps, allowing a microcosm of particles to dance in a thin ray of sunlight. Veronique pressed a remote on her bedside table, the button giving a small hesitant resistance before it clicked into place. The curtains began their slow mechanical glide apart caressing the sumptuous fabric across the deep piled and soft carpet, moving fibers like a wave. The window revealed the Champs-Élysées Avenue and the Arc de Triomphe. This was her city, her home and she ruled it and its upper echelons like no other. Her limited-edition clothing designs were fought over, surging the prices to unbelievable heights. The reason she could live in such luxury and indulge in an endless life of grandeur.
She clicked the light switch to her vast en suite bathroom, pushing the dimmer lower to give the room a soft glow. She entered the shower, with its multitude of jets, sprays and waterfall feature showerhead allowing her to clean, massage and invigorate her body as her mood decided. This morning, she began with a soft spray to waken her senses, and then gradually increased the pulse and power to knead her back, her legs, her breasts, and her stomach. She applied scented gels and lotions, smoothing and stroking her skin. When she felt cleansed and invigorated, Veronique stepped out of the shower to wrap herself in a large white fluffy towel of long-staple cotton and linen fabric the best available. She dabbed her skin letting the towel absorb the wetness before applying a rich creamy body lotion and slipping into a silk kimono.
A barrage of noise interrupted her calm morning routine, shouting, banging and clattering came through the open window. Veronique walked to the window and peered out, her agitation obvious. On the pavement, she saw men and women, stomping and jeering with placards and signs, their footwear grating and scraping on the concrete. Veronique picked up the telephone beside her and call down to the concierge.
“What is going on outside, Michael? What is that awful gathering about?”
“Madame, it is an anti-fur protest. I believe your latest autumn coats have caused concerns.”
“Well, how ridiculous. Send them away, Michael. I have to go to the design studio in less than an hour.”
“I have called the Gendarmerie, they assured me they will send men over shortly.”
“Well, see that they do, I need them gone…and soon.”
An hour later, the protesters and the Gendarmerie were still outside the building. Veronique had no choice but to call her car around to the rear entrance. She was not going to push her way through, sweating, shouting and vile people. The car sat idling as she exited the building, her cashmere wrap caressing her bare shoulders and her high heels pushing her calves upwards. She looked at her pocket watch, a memento of her late husband. A hard, callused hand shoved her back and she fell to the dirty, gritty concrete. A cry of hurt and shock uttered from her throat – a raw, rasping feeling in her throat. Pinpricks of tiny stones pierced her knees and hands. She felt blood ooze and flow. The pocket watch smashed into the ground, shattering and issuing shards of glass and cogs of shiny, cold metal. A man is screaming at her, vile things, obscene things. Her head swims, her eyes unfocused, the hard surface assaulting her skin, breaking her skin. Brash, solid, hard, unyielding surfaces inflicting pain.
A gloved hand took her upper arm, the leather smooth and stitched. A commanding voice issued orders, as she was guided to the back seat of the vehicle. She felt more leather, soft with use under her as she collapsed on her side. Pain radiated from all over her assaulted body, her mind too confused to make sense of what was happening. The door slammed shut, hands and feet thudding on the sides of the car. Gendarmerie vehicle lights and sirens adding to the cacophony of sound as her car inched forward. Veronique looked down at her legs and palms, where pain radiated. Filaments of skin hung from numerous cuts, gashes oozed, bruises formed, and grime soiled and spoiled her body. Tears traced tracks through her makeup leaving salty deposits. Veronique’s body vibrated with shock an anger. That man would pay for his attack and the damage he caused to her body.
How did the character of Veronique make you feel? Did you like or dislike her?
What are you currently reading?
I just finished Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay and enjoy her style and method of writing. It is a clever vehicle to have the lies contribute to the momentum of the story. Beautifully crafted narrative that carried you along. Moments of tense, fear and sadness coupled with heights of joy. Highly recommended.
Currently reading: Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube
I haven’t written a novel in quite some time, but I’ll tell you about my favourite novel, The Dwelling. It was my third book, and was published around 2006 by Simon & Schuster in the US, and by Random House Canada here in Canada. It was also published in the UK and Germany. It’s a classic haunted house novel, and I actually wrote it just after moving into my own little house, the first house I owned all on my own. The process of house hunting got me to thinking about all the lives that pass through a single house, and how pieces of those lives are likely left behind. I was also going through a divorce at the time, and the whole thing was very challenging–haunting, you could say. These things combined and before I knew it, I was telling the story of a house through the eyes of four very different people.
How did you come up with the title?
I didn’t! You know, I have never titled a book. Someone always changes my title at the level above me, ha ha. The Dwelling, for instance, was called The Dwellan by me. Dwellen is an old English word that means “to refuse to leave,” which I thought was appropriate. Simon & Schuster felt that it would be too oblique for readers and so altered it to be called The Dwelling. I was sad about that title change … “dwellan” seemed so appropriate.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
We’re all haunted by something.
How much of the book is realistic?
All the human emotion in the book is real. The whole thing is real, if you believe in ghosts!
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
That’s a mix. I think the writer always leaves something of themselves on the page at the end of the day, and certainly the middle story about the Mother and Son has shades of my own struggles during my divorce. The character of Ritchie is a writer. The Realtor, Glenn Darnley has just been widowed–she “lost” her husband–and certainly a divorce leaves you grieving. The character of the wife, Becca, in the first story is a very ambitious woman trying to be successful in a man’s world, and her troubled husband Dan is an artist. All of these people have shades of me in their characterizations. However, all of those characters are their own people, too, made up out of all the people I have ever interacted with, throughout my whole life.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
I’m fairly active on social media! I’m Susie Moloney on Facebook, @Susiemoloney on Twitter, and @susie.moloney on Instagram … please friend, follow, and like!
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
All my books have been “one-offs” as they say. As far as a new book goes … never say never. I have moved almost entirely on to film and television these days, however. In fact my very first full-length feature has recently been shot, Bright Hill Road. You can look for that sometime in the next year or so, and of course if you do follow me on social media, I give shamelessly regularly updates!
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I’ve always had–and always will have–a special place in my heart for Glenn Darnley, the widow realtor in that novel, The Dwelling. She was born at a time when there was a deep sadness in me, and she took that on like a champ. Writing her story helped me to get passed that sadness. Go, Glenn!
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I’m a horror writer through and through! Although I do occasionally write straight short fiction, and for many years I wrote a humour column. I also write funny essays. A laugh and a shriek are not far apart!
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I’m a planner. But I do allow a story to take me somewhere else if it seems like it needs to. I’m flexible, but I always know the ending of my story.
What is your best marketing tip?
Stay in touch with people! Social media is great for that.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
It’s a great tool. You can reach so many people! But it’s a lot of work to build a platform, and if you’re going to use social media as a promotional tool, you have to do that work, whether you want to or not!
What do you enjoy most about writing?
There is something absolutely magical about being able to absorb yourself entirely in the life of another human being–real or made up. To design their world, their thoughts, their relationships, is total trip! You’re literally making up a life and making it true! The idea that a well-told story can absorb someone else is a gift, too, this realization that someone who isn’t me can pick up my story or book and devote hours of their time to reading it because they are absorbed is probably the greatest honour I’ve ever had.
Susie Moloney is the author of Bastion Falls, A Dry Spell, The Dwelling, The Thirteen, and Things Withered, stories, a collection of short fiction. Published all over the world, in multiple languages, she continues to write, although these days, she writes horror film and television. Watch for the upcoming Bright Hill Road!
When I began writing, I used to spend a lot of time using a site called, Espresso Story, where the stories were 25 words or less. It helped me define a story in a few words until I felt able to increase my word count and descriptions.
Here are a few examples.
The stick flew My dog pounced And collided with him That’s how we met My love and I
Trapped but guilty to move on Loving but alone in a crowd Sleeping but horror in her dreams Smiling but crying within
Free of her kidnapper She fled the horrific basement Running along a darkened road Through torrential rain The driver never saw her
Tantrum: But I want it!!!! You’ll get it alright
Karma: We knew each other from before, Have loved in the present, Now to guarantee our future.
Boat Trip: The boat tips, Water seeps in, No land in sight, Help!