Sixty Seconds III with: Josh Bertetta

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)

Matchlight

Our newest Flash! Friday winner is Josh Bertetta.  Read his winning story here. This is his THIRD impressive win at Flash! Friday (his first two were back-to-back wins last October). Read his previous #SixtySeconds interviews here and here. Then take another minute or two to get to know him better below. (Yes; Josh has very rightly been permitted more than 20 words per answer, in honor of his third win.)

1. What about the prompts inspired your story?

“Field of Dreams,” Philip K. Dick’s “A Maze of Death,” and the Bible–all the characters, save (St.) Teresa, how I described each and what each saw in the door’s inscription, were inspired by the Bible

2. Your 1st & 2nd wins were back-to-back, and took place ages ago in October: what have you been up to these past eight months? (both in life and in writing)

I’ve been through a heck of a lot since then. Lots of rough times. Lots of crying. Still wrote though–mainly flash for Flash!Friday; just a few my “regular” blog posts. Writing for Flash! Friday was definitely cathartic. Started messing around creating videos from my lectures for you-tube. Presently I am working on a work of non-fiction.

3. Despite your phenomenal three crowns AND the countless number of other mentions, you’ve been writing flash for a bit less than a year. How has your view of flash changed since then? How has your own approach changed?

I don’t know how much my view has changed. Perhaps I see now how much more open to interpretation the prompts can be. I guess I try more often than not to make some sort of social/political statement in my work.

4. What are your favorite writing sites/resources?

Due to having so much going on these days between work and family and my non-fiction project, I honestly have not spent a whole lot of time, unfortunately, reading or listening to all that much on writing. I really respect those in our community who take the time to read and comment on everyone’s stories. I wish I had the time to do so; I know I’m missing out on a lot of great work.

5. In your earlier interviews, you’d said you were seeking an agent for your novel. How’s that going? What’s your take on the query process?

Right now an agent has my work in her hands and I suspect it will take a while to hear back from her. So I’m just waiting, crossing my fingers but not holding my breath. My take on the query process? A love/hate relationship.

6. What’s your take on traditional vs indie publishing?

Like most things, there are pros and cons to each and just before I heard from the agent wanting to see my novel, I was about to submit my work to an indie house here in Austin. So I’ll wait to hear from the agent; if it’s a no go, I’ll submit to the indie house.

7. You’ve got a story (or two? more?) coming out in the Flash Dogs: Dark anthology. Give us a hint about them pretty please? Talk about the Flash Dogs–is it safe having them roam around the Twitterverse?? Any comments on the anthologies?  You had THREE in the first one! Tell us about those!

I had a lot of fun with those stories. Actually, it is just one story in the form of letters–two for the Light and two for the Dark–love letters written by the sun and moon, or if you will, the day and night, expressing their longings and their sufferings, how they manage to grow and come into their own. The Flash Dog community!? No way are they safe and that’s why I love them and being part of the community. It really is an honor. The first anthology was great because there was a unity to it with the stories based on the prompt, then that magnificent multiplicity to it with so many great voices and stories written independently of the prompt. One of my stories–which relates to question nine below–was written in response to writer’s block (I won my first Flash!Friday with that one); the second, called “Roots” had to deal with racism and identity; the story based on the prompt was essentially a commentary on the moral corruption of immense wealth, inspired by a (then) object of much research–the Koch Brothers, two of the wealthiest men in America.

8. You’re famous for defying convention with structure and language. Do you have ideas in mind before seeing the prompt, or do you let the prompt direct your storytelling?

A little bit of both. Sometimes an idea might pop in my head. Maybe it will work that week, maybe it won’t. Maybe it will work another week. So mostly I let the prompt direct the story.

9. Tell us about your writing process. 

I don’t write as much as I’d like to these days–mostly its for Flash! Friday so I definitely look forward to 11pm each and every Thursday. No music, no coffee at that time. Just me in my dark room and the prompt. Maybe some candles and incense. I don’t really sit around too much thinking about the prompt; that is I don’t sit there trying to force some idea out by thinking. Mostly (excuse the pun) whatever flashes in my mind. If there’s something I can associate the prompt with, or if I can see the prompt in relation to some sort of social or political issue, I’ll go with that.

10. Who’s a writer (or writers) we should follow, and why?

Holly Geely. She’s fun; there’s definitely a smart wit about her writing.To say nothing of her use of language. How can there not be with that fabulous hair color? She always takes time to read and write thoughtful comments.

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