The Story Behind the Story: Adrian Slonaker



Adrian’s exploration of gender identity through an encounter with a stranger in a bar is intense, smoky, and deliciously painful. His descriptive writing will pull you in and leave you feeling unsettled.

How much of your life do you give to writing?

Probably not as much as many of my fellow writers do! But for as long as I can remember, I've been interested in writing, perhaps because I'm often a nervous speaker, and I express my thoughts most coherently using a pen and paper or a keyboard. At university I studied linguistics, English-language literature and writing, and I work as a freelance language professional, so I guess all that is part of my lifelong investment in writing. Plus, I enjoy corresponding with friends online, which is obviously another form of writing. As for my creative output, I don't have a set schedule. I just write whenever I feel inspired to jot down an idea or capture a snapshot of a feeling. I can go through a binge of several pieces in a week or go months without producing anything!

Your story Alex's Night Out is intense, and made more so by its vividly-described imagery. How does this piece fit with your wider writing? Do you write in other genres?

Thank you so much for the kind words! I write free-verse poetry much more often than prose (essays, creative non-fiction or general fiction, although I've written in all of these genres, in addition to one horror piece that was published a couple of years ago!); I enjoy detonating little bombs of compact imagery to reveal a specific scene and the emotions bubbling around it. My goal with regard to all my writing is to express something of who I am, of my life experience, even when it may not be patently obvious. Because "Alex's Night Out" is based on my recollections of something that happened to me, I'd like to think that the piece fits in well with the rest of my work.

What made you write this piece in particular?

Almost a decade ago, I developed a crush on a friend, as we shared similar interests and a common intellectual and professional vibe, and it was just so damned easy to discuss an incredibly broad range of topics, both sexual and non-sexual, with him. Although this person is also queer, I kept my infatuation a secret (perhaps out of dread of losing the friendship if it became known and things became thorny?), and the relationship remained platonic. Even so, I felt a strong and exhilarating urge to share explicit information about my past and about my personality/my identity with him, just as he did with me. As such, I began to think about what exactly I wanted him to know about "the real me" and how I'd disclose that information to him. I wrote the skeleton of "Alex's Night Out" back then as a sort of confessional piece for that reason and also for me to better understand myself. When your call for submissions was released, I remembered that bare-bones essay and decided to revisit it and flesh it out (pun intended!).

How can readers further support your writing?

By reacting and responding organically and authentically to it. If they want to read my output, I feel honoured. If they'd like to give me their candid feedback, I'd welcome it. If they'd rather not read my writing, that's fine too. I try to be honest about my words, so I ask that others honestly do or not do what they wish with those words.

As for a link to my work, one of my most frequent outlets is the wonderful Ponder Savant online magazine. This link should take you to my contributions (mostly poems) to the magazine, if you'd like to share it. https://pondersavant.com/tag/adrianslonaker/