Sixty Seconds IV with: Karl Russell

Hardly anybody wins four times at Flash! Friday. It just isn’t done. It may not be quite civilized. Or legal. But Karl’s gone and done it anyway (the lawyers are digging through the code like mad). 

Normally in this Sixty Seconds space we ask a few routine questions, and we get a few brief but fun answers.

Today will be anything but routine.

It will be anything but brief.

You may find yourself even more addicted to flash fiction than before.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.


Now for the official blurb: Our latest Flash! Friday winner is Karl Russell.  Read all about him here. This is his FOURTH Flash! Friday win, a feat managed so far only by Maggie Duncan and Betsy Streeter. Read this week’s winning story of his, “The Geek Shall Inherit…,” here, then take a couple of minutes to to see where Karl takes us today. I should tell you first that he — hey, that’s MY mic — hey, now give it ba–


Well, this could be interesting. Rebekah has pulled away all the prompts and interview questions and given me free reign to waffle on about my writing, what it means to me and where it comes from, along with anything else I might chance upon.

Oh dear…

I suppose a good place to start is with this week’s story. For the record, I have never fabricated a fake photo of my true love’s BF draped drunkenly across another woman. I’ve never even used Photoshop. But… An awful lot of my writing comes from taking aspects of myself and my life, good and bad, and turning them up to eleven. Same with the Photoshop Machiavelli. I wasn’t bullied much at school but that was probably because I learned early on to hide, to avoid attention, to watch as the wrong guy got the right girl and say nothing. But did I ever wonder how to split them up? Maybe imagine vast, Byzantine schemes that would eventually “help” her to see the error of her ways and send her rushing to my arms for a John Hughes ending? Heck yes!

So, that’s where the kid came from, but how did I get there from the chess picture? Well, as with so many of my stories, there was a song involved. I saw the prompt, started thinking about ideas, then plugged the headphones in for the trip to work. Up comes Eels’ “Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living)” and the line “Do you know what it’s like to care too much, ‘bout someone that you’re never gonna get to touch?” Well yes, I surely do, and by the time I got to work (literally a three minute train ride) I knew what I was going to write about.

Going back through my stories recently for the Flash Dogs anthology that David Shakes and Mark A. King are masterminding, it was interesting to see just how much of myself I’d put in there (and people I know too, which is why it’s always a little scary when I post something and wait for the phone to start buzzing…). It’s almost like a fictionalised diary; pretty much everything I do and see gets worked through in the stories. Smile at me on Monday morning, and by Friday you’ll be starring in my latest piece. You might be fighting zombie pirates or eating enchanted peaches, but it’s you. And woe betide anyone who displeases me…

My story at The Angry Hourglass this week is a perfect example of where life and fiction crosses over; it’s about a scarred outcast who hides his insecurities behind sarcasm and only really relaxes at comic conventions, when he’s surrounded by people who make him look normal. I had the idea on Saturday.

At a comic convention.

I’m not him, he’s not me, but still, take that basic nerdy template and come up with a decent reason to maximise the social exclusion and there you go.

Ah, comics… The other great love of my life. Somewhere on this page, there’s a nice little sketch of Daredevil by Paolo Rivera, with speech bubbles by the writer Mark Waid. I love getting sketches and just started filling book number four, but what I like even more is getting a sketch, then handing it to the writer of the book and asking them to add dialogue. At the cons, the artists work till their arms drop off, knocking out sketch after sketch, while the writer just has to remember their name and how to write it, so it’s fun to put them on the spot a little. The results are always great, but this is probably my favourite: “I don’t have to win all my fights. I just have to fight.” The sentiment is so perfect for the character, for life in general and for writing in particular. Four wins in forty-four consecutive stories is a nine percent success rate; if you hit that level in most tests it would be an outright fail. But as Daredevil tells us, it’s enough just to turn up, week after week, win, lose or draw. That counts for something all by itself, and for someone who would really prefer to be hiding in the shadows and not drawing any attention, it’s still a kind of victory.

Autographed Daredevil. Image owned by Karl A. Russell.

Autographed Daredevil. Image owned by Karl A. Russell.

So I’ll see you all next Friday.

And the next.

And the next.

And the next…


5 thoughts on “Sixty Seconds IV with: Karl Russell

  1. Awesome inspiration, Karl. That Daredevil quote is amazing. Gonna take that one to heart today.

    That you could weave such writing advice into the “60 seconds”, bouncing off the mention of a comic convention which was tied to where you get your ideas… well, I’ll just say that I like the way your brain works.

    And I’m a bit envious of your autographed Daredevil sketch. Okay, more than a bit. I’ll have to repent of that later.

    Thanks again for brightening my day. Truly.

  2. “…someone who would really prefer to be hiding in the shadows…”

    Please feel free to do so – and give the rest of us a chance!

    Just kidding… Congratulations on your fourth / latest win!

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