Flash Fiction Writer Interview
Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?
I love the immediacy of flash, the tightness of it. How you can say so much with so little. In college, I had a writing teacher who thought I’d be a natural at flash, but I was a poet (I thought) and didn’t believe him. Looking back, all the poetry I was writing was actually just flash with line breaks.
What’s your writerly lifejacket: character or plot?
I’m terrible with plot. Just terrible. I’ve always been better at hinting about plot and letting the characters carry the story.
I hope I’m crafting characters who seem real. I believe in them, at least. Like, I think somewhere there has got to be a girl who would marry a bird because he was the one she’d been waiting for or a girl who keeps attracting boys who see ghosts. They’re out there, really. Or they should be.
Writing style: Quick and messy or slow and precise?
It’s actually quick and precise. My biggest weakness as a writer is that if the words aren’t pretty damn close to their final form when I first write them, there’s really no way they can be saved. A lot of my work goes into the shredder or, if I’m feeling really dramatic, into the fire pit.
But sometimes I’m lucky and the words are there and, with a few edits, I’ve got something.
What element or part of your “real life” do you think most influences your writing?
I’m always watching people, always listening. At work, I overheard a woman telling my boss about coming up on the car wreck that killed her mother. And I’m listening to her and I’m thinking this would be great in a story, and just hating myself for it. But, of course, I don’t stop listening. I hope I don’t write that story. I still remember how the woman’s hands shook as she described the wreck to my boss, the look on her face.
If you could recommend one flash story or writer, who/what would it be?
I could never choose just one. There are so many fabulous writers out there. I love Lori Sambol Brody, Nicholas Cook, Rebecca Harrison, Meghan Phillips. Those are some of my favorites. They’re all such different writers with such unique styles, and they’re all just so amazing.
But I can’t name all the writers I adore. It would be such a long list. I’m so grateful there is so much wonderful flash for me to read.
What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?
My hardest story to write was a micro piece in Citron Review, “The Size of Your Love.” It’s about a woman leaving her dead baby at a funeral home with the office manager. There’s this moment where she kisses this little fist-sized baby over and over again. I wrote that one in second person because I just couldn’t face it in first.
So that was a really tough piece for me to write — hopefully there’s some beauty in it. I’d be really grateful if people liked it.
Cathy Ulrich is a writer from Montana. She is a fiction editor for Atlas and Alice, and an editorial reader for Spry. Her work has been published in various journals, including Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review and Monkeybicycle. She has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, was a finalist for Best Small Fictions 2017, and was named to Wigleaf’s Very Best Short Fictions 2017.