Our 2015 1/2K Prize judge is the phenomenal Kim Chinquee, whose excellent story, “Darling,” will appear in The Indiana Review issue 37.2, Winter 2015. Here she discusses her thoughts on short-short work, dealbreakers, and what she might be looking for in the prize-winning entry.
Kim Chinquee is the author of the collections PRETTY, PISTOL, and OH BABY. Her website is www.kimchinquee.com.
1) When and how did you start writing short-short work?
I wrote my first flash fiction piece in 2000, in Mary Robison’s workshop at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. It was my second semester as a graduate student. She had asked the students to bring in something short, so I wrote a piece called “Pure Gold,” which I sent to NOON. It was accepted by Diane Williams, and retitled “The Top Shelf.” I continued writing flash fictions, along with longer work, and seem to have better luck with the flashes.
2) We hear a lot about the challenge of “compressing” in short-short work. Can you speak a bit to how you’ve found this to be the case or not, and to any other challenges you encounter in writing?
My biggest challenge is writing longer work. I’ve become so accustomed to writing short work that my internal editor is sometimes hyperactive. Lately, I’ve been trying to write more, and then scale back, after I can see the work objectively. I find enjoyment in that.
3) “Choo and Rumble” is at once highly specific and vast in its thematic scope and treatment of time. What are some of your thoughts on the responsibility of short-short work at large, or some myths about it that you want to debunk?
I admire senses and scenery in short-short work. And jumps in time and space. More showing, less telling. Sometimes language play. Breaking limits and boundaries. In short-short work, it’s interesting to break the rules.
4) Do you have any hard and fast “dealbreakers” in writing? Any pet peeves?
Ending the piece by saying it’s a dream. Fiction is already a dream, so it takes the dream out of it when a narrator announces to the reader it’s a dream. On the other hand, I think dreams can make interesting stories, and can sometimes add depth to fiction, as long as the narrator doesn’t point out that the “dream” is a dream.
5) What might you be looking for in the prize-winning entry?
Originality. Interesting language, sensory details, themes. And lots of surprises!