Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?
Is it weird that I’ve never thought about this?
I like understatement, efficiency, playfulness, nuance. These are seemingly contradictory things but together they create tension and intrigue. Flash is an ideal form for me, in that regard.
My favorite novelists started out as poets. You can see it in the stylistic choices they make. There is an economy of language without sacrificing any of the texture that makes a story compelling. I see a lot of the same qualities in the flash fiction writers I admire.
The short answer: I have no idea. Most of the stories I write end up short and I trust myself enough as a writer to leave them that way.
What’s your writerly lifejacket: character or plot?
I’m going to be sneaky and say setting. But, setting as character. My stories always begin, at least during the writing process, with a sense of place. For me, the physical geography of a place or moment will inform the larger emotional geography of a story.
I’m currently working on a novel-in-flash that is set on the U.S./Mexico border. I can’t imagine writing about the border without writing about the desert. The desert is as much a character as any person and has as much, if not more, impact on plot than any other element in the story.
Writing style: Quick and messy or slow and precise?
I tend to think about a story for a long time before I ever write a word. And I edit slow. So, I would say that my writing style is just: slow. Happy and slow. Like a sloth.
What element or part of your “real life” do you think most influences your writing?
Being a parent. Seeing and re-learning the world through my son’s eyes. I definitely see his influence on my writing and the choices I make as an editor.
Also, I have this thing about birds. There’s usually one or more in my stories. I’m always looking for birds, every day, everywhere I go. I am one of those obnoxious people who will stop listening to you when I see a bird, which I’ve been told is equal parts endearing and annoying. Thankfully, my husband is a birding guide, so that worked out well.
If you could recommend a few flash stories or writers, who/what would it be?
All of the stories we publish at jmww. Shameless promotion! I can’t help it. We have a great flash fiction team, and I’m really proud of the work we’ve been publishing.
I would also like to recommend Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from The United States and Latin America. It’s a fantastic anthology.
What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?
I hear less about stories published in print than those published online, and the obvious issue there is accessibility. I feel pretty lucky, though. I’m hearing from many of the same readers with each new story and the crowd seems to be growing. People who read and share stories are superheroes.
Kristin Bonilla is a fiction writer living in Houston, TX. Her work has appeared in Pithead Chapel, Hobart, Jellyfish Review, Gulf Coast online, Smokelong Quarterly, and elsewhere. She is a flash fiction editor at jmww. Follow her @kbonilla and read more at www.kristinbonilla.com.