Interview with Sunshine Barbito


  • What inspired or influenced you to write this piece?

This story was definitely influenced by “Work” by Denis Johnson, from his collection Jesus’ Son. Johnson’s writing lives somewhere between gutting realness, and Biblical supernaturality. One minute, we’re with the narrator pulling wire from the walls of an old house, throwing up from withdrawal. And then the next we’re with him as he watches a woman, flying through the sky, completely naked, like some kind of angel. My story was inspired by those moments after big change, like graduating high school or getting clean, both, when you want a good life, but you don’t yet know if you’re ready to work for it; you want to put off growing up forever. I also wanted this story to capture the feeling of being totally, stupidly, irreversibly and self-destructively in love with someone. I think most people can relate to, laugh at, and heart break for that high-school-way love makes you want to crawl into your crush’s skin.

  • How would you describe your artistic style? What do you want to accomplish with your art?

My style of writing is Minimalism. I believe the best stories are told through movement, action, smell, taste, and sound. There’s this sense of euphoria I get when I’m reading something by Raymond Carver or Chuck Palahniuk, and I start to recognize choruses, recognize objects as they accrue meaning and morph throughout the story. I want to evoke that I knew it feeling in the reader. I want to allow the reader to make their own conclusions about the action unfolding before them, make connections between the fiction and their real lives. But at the same time, I want the reader to be intrigued and left wanting more. Shock and vindication. A great writer whom I’ve studied under for years now has a motto about what a storyteller’s job is, that I think perfectly sums up what I want to accomplish with my art. My teacher says that with everything you create, you should always make your audience laugh, then make them cry.

  • Tell us a little bit about your current artistic projects.

Currently, I’m working on finalizing scripts for my first graphic novel as sole writer, Mafiosa. Mafiosa is set in New York City, in the 1920s. The story is about the youngest daughter of a prominent mafia family, trying to break her way into the business. The graphic novel is set to be published by Dark Horse Comics in 2021. For me, writing two pieces of the same format simultaneously helps me to be more productive; takes a bit of the pressure off. I’m adapting the brilliant novel by Nami Mun, Miles from Nowhere, into an eight-part miniseries. My other screenwriting project is an adaptation of Disco Bloodbath by James St. James, a true story that both the movie and documentary “Party Monster” are based on. With both adaptations, my hope is to acquire their rights and bring these projects to life. For my prose work, along with short stories, I’m writing a fiction novel based in my hometown, and another fiction novel about family. In my free time, I write a non-fiction blog about life and writing. My blog is called “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Blog” and can be found at eternalsunshineblog.com.

You can read Sunshine’s first place story, “Glory of Love,” here.