Mini-Interview with Noa Sivian

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Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?

First of all, thank you for having me here. Your mini-interviews are always enriching thanks to the insightful writers you pick. It’s a huge compliment.

The main reason I found myself in the flash pond was the language barrier. I started writing in English in 2016, and even though I spoke English well enough, I never read or wrote anything but emails and text messages. The flash genre made it possible for me to write about topics I couldn’t explore in Hebrew—too close to home.

In many ways, this difficulty had shaped my style. I try not to complicate things. The most important aspect for me is delivering an image to the reader’s mind before the words even hit.

What’s your writerly lifejacket: character or plot?

Ideally, both. I rarely think of just a character or just a plot. They activate each other. I like to match ordinary characters with unusual circumstances, and vice versa.

I admire writers who can build their story like an impressionist painting; showing us only a dot—the character’s—then gradually making us take a step back, revealing a spectacular landscape. I don’t know how to do that, yet.

Writing style: Quick and messy or slow and precise?

I’m a head writer. I try to sort the story out before I’m actually writing it. Of course, it never works. Once I start, words are in control. They have the power to change my character or plot or structure or all of the above. So, I guess you can say—messy.

Editing is where everything changes again. On average, I end up with 2-3 drafts per micro, and 10-15 per flash.

I like editing better than writing. It teaches me to let go of my ego.

What element or part of your “real life” do you think most influences your writing?

I moved a lot as a kid and as an adult, so I’ve always felt like an outsider. This state of not belonging is constant. It made me curious and observant out of social survival.

If you could recommend a few flash stories or writers, who/what would it be?

That’s the hardest question possible, Tommy. I assume that’s why it’s in your mini-interviews. You’re relentless.

My first flash read was one of Cathy Ulrich’s Japanese stories—“Where the Drowned Ride,” published at Wigleaf. It was a revelation. Everything she writes is a no less than a little miracle.

Lori Sambol Brody knows all the secrets of the human psyche. Just read the masterpiece “The Sky Is Just Another Neighborhood,” published at SmokeLong.

Christopher James is a busy editor at Jellyfish Review (full disclosure: he’s the first to publish and encourage me to keep writing), but when he has a story out, I’m the happiest person around. “Siobhan Vs. Her Baby Brother”, published at Atticus, is pure joy.

Yael van der Wouden—I can’t crack her writing enigma, and I hope I never will. “I Don’t Know What to Tell You,” published at Cheap Pop, and all her other stories, have that spell on me.

Melissa Goode writes brutal emotions with such lightness it makes your jaw drop. “I Will Not Show My Love In Turquoise,” published on FRiGG, is one of her many beautiful stories.

Kathy Fish, the Reina of flash and micro, just had five tiny micros published at Pidgeonholes. The pieces are layered with different degrees of pain and humanity. If anyone wants to know what microfiction is all about, they should start there.

I have the privilege of reading Etgar Keret in his mother tongue. He’s an innovative writer who opened up the old-fashioned Hebrew lit world to new styles. His translated piece in the New York Times “To The Moon And Back” is unforgettable. I tried.

K.C. Mead-Brewer is a phenomenal writer. She made me laugh in despair in her Paper Darts piece “Late at Night, After He’s Fallen Asleep.” That story never left my mind.

Tara Isabel Zambrano writes colors, smells, and intimacies like no other. I’m overjoyed when I see there’s a new story of hers.

Jad Josey teaches me about boyhood, brotherhood, manhood—hell, all the hood’s—with great sensitivity and meticulous writing.

Jennifer Fliss is one of a kind. She’s more than a writer: she’s a deep tissue massage to where it hurts the most.

Jacqueline Doyle crushes me in less than a 100 words. She’s an absolute ace.

M. Stone is a poet, not a prose writer per se, but I hope she will be soon. She’s out of this world. Her poems are a hug, slap and kick to the gut, all wrapped in delicious wording.

There are many other writers and stories that I love with all my heart. It was almost impossible choosing just these people and their work.

What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?

The Chinese Box, published at Jellyfish Review. It’s a love story starring a flaccid dildo.

BIO: 

Noa Sivan was born and raised in Israel and is currently living in Granada, Spain. She’s a graphic designer, writer and assistant editor for Cheap Pop. You can find her small fiction on Monkeybicycle, Jellyfish Review, Wigleaf, Lost Balloon, FRiGG and more.

Twitter handle: @migdalorr.

Website: www.noasivan.com

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