Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?
When I started writing regularly about five years ago, I didn’t even know the sort of stories I was creating had a name. All I knew was that I preferred writing lots of very small stories to fewer, larger ones. Then I started using Twitter properly and discovered lots of people were doing the same thing, and it was called flash fiction!
What makes flash different is the power that can be packed into such a small space. Flash is excellent for a really close examination of a moment in time, but equally there are epics spanning dozens of years. There’s room for experimentation in form, too, in ways that would prove cumbersome over thousands of words, but really make an impact in a couple of hundred.
Oh, and a practical advantage of flash: so much of my short fiction reading is done on my phone these days and it’s much easier to read a few hundred words on a small screen than a few thousand.
What’s your writerly lifejacket: character or plot?
Plot, generally, comes first, with characters to fit coming afterwards. That’s not always the case, though, and sometimes it’s dribs and drabs of both coming together at once.
Writing style: Quick and messy or slow and precise?
When I started writing, it was always quick and messy. Now, somehow, I’ve become rather slower than I’m comfortable with. There’s a lot to be said for being quick and messy, then tidying up afterwards. I’d like to get back to that.
What element or part of your “real life” do you think most influences your writing?
Gosh. I don’t know, to tell you the truth. I write a lot of stories about people who had or are having terrible childhoods. But I had a perfectly nice childhood. I also seem to have a lot of stories about people being horrible to animals. But I love animals. So I guess I like to use my stories to trash things that have been perfectly lovely in my real life. I don’t know what that says about me.
If you could recommend a few flash stories or writers, who/what would it be?
Apologies to everyone I’ve missed out, but if I put down all the authors and writers I’d like to here, this would be a hell of a long list.
Gaynor Jones’ Bath Flash Award-winning Cleft shows just how you can take one small detail and spin a story spanning a lifetime from it.
Jeremy’s Wish by Christopher Stanley is horrifying in all the best ways, but might ruin Christmas for you forever.
Caleb Echterling writes funny, inspired nonsense, such as A Happy Day At The Poet Pound.
Rebecca Field’s The Pickle Jar is the best tale about a pickle-loving good-for-nothing husband you’ll ever read.
Santino Prinzi’s These Are The Rules Of Our Canopy Shyness And Life is like nothing you’ve ever read, with sadness, sweetness and humour in perfect balance.
Joely Dutton’s Stronger Than Stitches, Stronger Than Glue is weird and touching and funny and weird again.
What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?
Jennifer and the Scientist didn’t get much recognition, probably because I couldn’t think of a decent title for it – and still haven’t – but I really like it and had a brilliant time writing it. Everyone loves a revenge story, right? Especially one with dogs and robots in it.
David Cook lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter. He’s had work published in the National Flash Fiction Anthology, Spelk, the Sunlight Press, Barren and plenty more. He’s a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Say hi on Twitter @davidcook100 and visit his blog at www.davewritesfiction.wordpress.com