Ask The Author: Stacy Lynn Austin

“Mount Bonnell” is a piece by Stacy Lynn Austin, a part of the October 2011 issue. Stacy answered all kinds of interesting questions for us, and for you.

1. What would you do on a second honeymoon?

I’ve never been married, but this is the way I imagine it: A first honeymoon is all about escaping together after the wedding. You go through all this planning and have an overwhelming amount of family and friends around you, so it’s just time to reconnect with each other, leave the rest of the world behind, and start off your married life with having a lot of alone time. A first honeymoon is like the fantasy of what you want your married life to be like: sex everyday, etc. A second honeymoon happens when you realize marriage is hard, but you still love each other day in and out, only you’re both living in reality now. The second honeymoon should be the unplanned adventure. Make it spontaneous, do something outside of your comfort zone, and totally leave your children behind. Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?

2. What would you listen to if you got high?

Music is one of the most amazing things to ever happen. I can listen to albums on repeat and just be in awe about how everything sounds together and how much talent and time goes into producing an album. Obviously, like Lex and Will in the story, I too have a Radiohead obsession. There is nothing quite like listening to The Bends or OK Computer, no matter what state you’re in. Still, if I’m going to be “relaxing,” I love music that helps put me in a dream like state and gives me something to think about. Right now, I listen to a lot of Florence and the Machine, and Iron and Wine has been another stand out longtime favorite. The opening song on the album Kiss Each Other Clean resonates powerfully with me. I feel guilty when I don’t listen to albums in order, so I try to just put on something and let it play all the way out. We have a record player that is good for that. We found some Neil Young records at a secondhand store, and those make life pretty amazing too. Oh to live on Sugar Mountain…
3. What is your favorite fast food place to eat to recover from being stoned or drunk?

I grew up in Austin, Texas, so to me, there is nothing quite like a breakfast taco from Taco Shack. Potato, Egg, and melted Cheese in a flour tortilla with salsa. I don’t see how recovery could taste any better than that. Luckily, there is one right near my parent’s house, so when I’m home visiting, I always have to go.
4. Where did “Mount Bonnell” come from?

I’m interested in the ways that people mess each other up. There are factors, both external and internal, that keep us from getting what we really want or from being able to ask for what we need. I think that damaging relationships from people’s youths end up shaping them in surprising ways. It isn’t that I sat down to write a story about those ideas, but they are concerns of mine, so it makes sense that they appeared in the story. When I wrote “Mount Bonnell,” I had just finished reading A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, and I had a scene in my mind of Will’s character smoking pot and talking about those concepts and how ridiculous and funny the ideas seemed coming from a stoned teenager. I saw Lex in the scene too. There was something strange about their relationship, but I had to keep writing to find out what made me feel so unsettled about them. Once I found the story, it made me uncomfortable, but eventually, I figured out that isn’t always a bad sign. I guess the simple answer would have been to say the story started with seeing the characters and developed from there.

5. Where is the most dangerous place you have willingly went to? Why did you go there?

I have a conflicting personality. I’m very cautious, but I also love to be scared. Sometimes, I look back on my decisions and think “that was probably dangerous.” In grad school, I used to go “ghost hunting” with friends. That basically entailed going to graveyards in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere Louisiana. We would especially seek out places that had creepy stories or backgrounds. The local people did not always appreciate that, especially if it was a private cemetery, and I’m pretty sure that there is increased gun ownership in Louisiana, so looking back, those excursions were probably dangerous. We had to run a few times! I don’t know why we did it. I don’t think we thought we would find ghosts. I wish I could say it was an experiment in finding folklore or something that would justify doing that, but I think the truth is there just isn’t a lot to do in a small town. And we had a lot of fun just exploring at night and taking the long car trips together; I’m not sure I’d do it again, but I don’t regret it.

6. How would you drive to the ocean?

I just drove (this week) from Midland, Texas to Palm Springs, California. We did it in a day and it took 17 hours (including stops), if we had gone two more hours, we would have made it to an ocean. All you need is some money for gas and food. I also recommend bringing pillows and blankets. And don’t expect the food on the road to be good. Not even a grilled cheese is safe!

Listen kids: If you still live with your parents, you could make the drive while they’re out of town. Nothing says “surprise, welcome home from your second honeymoon,” like a note proclaiming you just drove 1,000 miles to the ocean.