Mini-Interview with Tim Fitts

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

In my mind, traditional stories lengths are like pitching a single out in baseball.  Presenting the batter with a variety of images that allow him or her to think you are going to put the ball here at this speed, when, instead, you put the ball there at that speed, leaving the batter stunned, forced to consider how they got into the predicament and what to do, all starting from your body form, angle of release, and so on and so forth.  Flash is when the count is three and two, and they decide to bring in a reliever for a single pitch, and you put everything into that pitch.  It’s a fastball.  You know it, the batter knows it, and the ball snaps into the catcher’s mitt creating a brief cloud of dirt from the air forced from the padding of the mitt.  That’s a flash piece. 

What’s your writerly lifejacket: character or plot?  Right down the middle.  Half and half – the tightrope between the two. 

Writing style: Quick and messy or slow and precise?  Probably slow and precise.  With a novel, you can live in that world for some time and crawl around inside it.  Flash seems like laying an egg.  They occur sporadically with the soft shell, and the second draft hardens the shell.

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

These days, I work to set out and catch an image.  For instance, last year I published a story, “Sea Balloon,” in The Baltimore Review about a sea turtle that is about to eat a balloon floating on the surface.  When my brother and I set out to go fishing, just prior to leaving, I closed my eyes and said to myself, “Find the image,” and then went about my business.  About a mile out, I saw the balloon, and sort of perked up, and just like clockwork, I saw the head of the sea turtle making a beeline toward the balloon, too late to do anything about it.  “There it is,” I said to myself, then waited four months for the words to put themselves in the right order.

It is very important to embark on the day, whether it’s fishing or going to class and set your mind into alert mode and wait for the nugget.

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

Cameron MacKenzie’s “Coyotes,” published in CutBank online.

Jessica Francis Kane’s “Night Class,” from her book, This Close

Amy Hempel’s “Church Cancels Cow”

Raymond Carver’s “Popular Mechanics”

What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?

“Blue Print,” which appears in my collection of stories, Hypothermia, but was written too late in the process to be published in a journal.

BIO: Tim Fitts lives and works in Philadelphia with his wife and two children.  He is the author of two short story collections, Hypothermia (MadHat Press) and Go Home and Cry for Yourselves (Xavier Review Press).  His work has been published by journals such as The Gettysburg Review, Granta, Cutbank, fugue, The Apple Valley Review, A3 Review, Boulevard, among many others.  His flash piece, “Shark Patrol,” will drop on the TJ Eckleburg Online website, February 11.


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