Issue 049 Author Interview: Lisa Fox and “The Important Things”

Are you ready for our round of Issue 049 author interviews? We’re kicking them off with Lisa Fox and her insight on her touching story “The Important Things.”

LSQ: What a unique story about a woman dealing with her grief! What was your inspiration for this story?

Lisa: I guess you can say this story is a bit of a hybrid – half fiction, half creative nonfiction. I lost my mother five years ago and my dad almost three now; recently we went through the process of clearing out the house (my childhood home) and I felt like I needed to write about it. The faux flowers on the table were, indeed, my mother’s (she’d always said “they’re yours when I die” – I know, morbid). The description of the mom at the stove cooking Sunday dinner – my mom for sure. The smells, sights, sounds… all the tapestry of my childhood. I struggled quite a bit to go back into the house after they’d passed. It was just so… empty.

The story itself came to me based on a prompted writing exercise, where a character found a “magical object” that “changed everything.” In the spirit of “what if,” I thought about going back to those little moments that you never value until they’re gone. I wondered about how those who are very elderly sometimes are “here” but not here, and where their minds go when they are “someplace else.” I thought about the phrase that “you can always go home,” and how I always believed that until my parents passed. Home is not a place, it’s a time. And if you could “go home,” would you?

LSQ: As someone who tends to put a lot of emotional value in physical things, I was very moved by this story’s message. Why do you think people put so much value on their things, and treat moments and memories as afterthoughts?

Lisa: I think there’s a certain magic in the tangible – in the artifacts that represent those moments we hold dear. My dad’s fishing hat. My mom’s favorite fleece sweatshirt that still hangs in my closet. Wedding rings. Baby blankets. Because ‘things’ are physical representations of who we were, who we are, where we went and with whom. The infant in your arms is still the same person as the teenager that towers over you, but not. The blanket or bear they clutched every night as they fell asleep is always static, and by holding it close that baby becomes real again. It’s evidence that you didn’t imagine it all. Things bring you back. Like magic.

LSQ: What would have happened if Grandma Lane’s glasses hadn’t been broken? Do you think Melanie would have been stuck in the past like her grandmother, or would she have moved on anyway? How do you think this story would have turned out with the glasses staying intact?

Lisa: Melanie had one big advantage that Grandma Lane did not – her youth. We don’t know exactly “when” Grandma Lane found herself stuck but Melanie always remembered her grandmother that way. Grandma was “old,” thought to suffer from dementia, so I think getting lost in the past was almost accepted—which is actually quite sad. For a young woman with a family and responsibilities, like Melanie, there probably would have been some intervention. Her sister, perhaps her husband… someone would have picked up on the idea that things weren’t quite right, that she needed help to move forward. The spell from the glasses would have been broken regardless. It was fortuitous for Melanie that it happened how and when it did.

LSQ: Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment? If so, can you tell us about them?

Lisa: I have a fairly large queue of short stories that need editing before they are ready for prime time! So I always have different projects in various stages of finish. For the past few years I’ve focused exclusively on short works, and ultimately I’m hoping to pull together a collection.

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