Ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer. That’s less time than it takes to burn a match*.
(*Depending on the length of the match and your tolerance for burned fingers, obviously)
Our newest Flash! Friday winner is Michael Seese, who joins the small but fierce band of others who’ve won THREE TIMES since December 2012. Read his winning story here. Read his previous interviews here and here. (YES–all of his wins are within the past two months!) I hope you have as much a blast with this interview as I am. And a little Note: as a third-time winner, he’s not bound by the “twenty words” rule.
1) What about the prompt inspired your winning piece? Though this was not a question, once again I wanted to say I am humbled and touched by the kindness and the genuine support of my fellow authors.
My first thought was something about the Wicked Witch Of The East. (Recall the black and white striped socks peeking from beneath Dorothy’s house.) I quickly, mercifully discarded that idea. My next thought was of a woman drowning her infant, and the deciding conflict at the end would be whether to throw herself in as well. Originally, the dialogue WAS a back-and-forth with herself. But as it evolved, somehow the lover — and his final act of murder — just happened.
2) What’s your biggest writerly pet peeve? I don’t know if I have a pet peeve. My biggest writer’s amusement are the conversations I sometimes have that go like this:
“You’ve written a book? That’s so cool. I’d love to write a book.”
Me: “OK. So start.”
3) What was it like writing Rebecca? What will you change/keep about the process in writing your adult thriller? OK, this is not a short answer… I remember one Sunday morning in April of 2009 (yes, my memory is that good) I came up with a story idea. A man reads an ad in the classifieds which offers $10,000 in exchange for a one-night stand. “No Strings Attached.” I thought through that idea, and came up with the basics of the story. But I didn’t think I could make an 80,000-word novel out of it. But a short story… So I thought of other ways to use the idea of “No Strings Attached.” I kept working on it, and by the end of that day, had concepts for seven interconnected short stories woven around the theme of strings, and how different lives, places, and times can be tied together. They were conceived as a unit, with characters, themes, story arcs, and symbols threading throughout. One of those was Rebecca, and her skydiving accident. And (BLATANT COMMERCIAL) though I’d love for it to be free on Amazon, I’ve used up my freebies for a while. But it’s only 99 cents. That’s like, one-third of a cent per day! Buy it here.
As to how “No Strings” will be different from the thriller. “No Strings” was definitely seat of the pants. In fact, I wrote about 50% of each of the stories — a paragraph here, three pages over there — before I decided to sit down and actually focus on (and complete) one. The thriller — or at least the characters — will be thoroughly outlined.
5) How has your flash fiction writing changed since starting 3 years ago? The first flash fiction I wrote wasn’t even a story, in that it didn’t have an ending. So I learned that they still need to be stories. I later figured something out — something I have since heard one of your judges say. That a twist ending really magnifies the impact, and makes a flash fiction piece stand out. Those “Sixth Sense endings” seem to come naturally to me, whether it’s flash, a short story, or a novel. And sometimes even poetry.
6) Final thoughts? FINAL thoughts? Do you know something about the future that I don’t?