Excerpt from Smoking With Berit Ellingsen

Excerpt from interview in SmokeLong Quarterly issue 33, about my story Sovetskoye Shampanskoye.

by Brandon Wicks.

One thing that immediately interests me about “Sovetskoye Shampanskoye” is the numerical form, counting from 0 to 9, building key moments and images that create the arch of your main character’s life. What inspired you to structure the story this way?

I wanted the story to feel measured and analytical, since the descriptions are external and focused on the setting and the environment, instead of on bodies and emotions. I tried to imagine what the rooms and places and external environment would tell about scenes from a life, because even when we have a strong emotional response to events, most of our external environment is still and quiet. I wanted to explore that contradiction.

The story is also a look at the recent past, the Cold War. I can vaguely remember news footage from Eastern Europe and Russia, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a child I couldn’t understand the motivation behind the Cold War and the actions of the governments and agents that we heard about in the news. The story is a little like going back to that. I imagine that government agents had to be quite analytical and calculating in their work and covert lives behind the Iron Curtain, and the numbers’ structure reflects that too.

Read the rest of the interview.

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