Mini-Interview with Dana Diehl

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

Flash fiction is like a small treasure that fits in your pocket. A perfectly smooth stone, maybe. Or a bird egg you find on the sidewalk, miraculously uncracked. When I write flash, I love that I can see the beginning and end of the story at the same time. If I make a change in the first paragraph, I can instantly see, without flipping or scrolling, how it changes the last paragraph.

What’s your writerly lifejacket: character or plot?

I don’t think I fit in either of those categories! I usually start a story with a concept, and when I feel stuck, I always return to that concept. I ask myself: In this world or situation I’ve created, what are the possibilities? Have I played out all of those possibilities to the fullest extent? Which of those possibilities would lead to the most interesting plot or character development?

Writing style: Quick and messy or slow and precise?

I usually start out slowly, painfully slowly. Then, when I feel like I’ve locked into the voice of the story, I switch to quick and messy.

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

I’m so influenced by my students. I teach nine and ten-year-olds who are full of creativity and incredible strangeness and unusual ways of seeing the world. They love asking “What if?” questions, and I think they’ve taught me to do the same. They’ve also given me an appreciation for stories that are fun and playful and don’t take themselves too seriously.

If you could recommend one flash story or writer, who/what would it be?

One of my all-time favorite flash stories is “Life Story” by Joseph Scapellato. You can read an excerpt on Kenyon Reviewor in his short story collection, Big Lonesome. It’s incredible, and I won’t spoil it by trying to explain why!

What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?

I’m really fond of my story, “The Ulcer,” published with Jellyfish Review, because I feel like the narrator in that story is closer to me than maybe any other story I’ve written. It’s based on my anxiety surrounding my body and my wish for simple, decisive answers. Maybe if you’ve ever worried obsessively that you have an ulcer, this story might be for you?


Dana Diehl is the author of OUR DREAMS MIGHT ALIGN (Splice UK, 2018) and TV GIRLS (New Delta Review, 2018).

Her collaborative short story collection, THE CLASSROOM, was published with Gold Wake Press in January 2019.

Dana earned her BA in Creative Writing from Susquehanna University. She received her MFA in Creative Writing at Arizona State University.

Dana has served as editor-in-chief of Hayden’s Ferry Review and The Susquehanna Review. She is a Blog Interviewer for The Collagist. She has taught Composition, Creative Writing, and Humanities at Arizona State University, Florence Prison, the National University of Singapore, and BASIS Primary.

Her honors and awards include a Completion Fellowship from Arizona State University, as well as Piper Enrichment Grants to attend the Port Townshend Writers Conference and the Rutgers Camden Summer Writers’ Conference. In 2014, she received a Piper Global Fellowship to teach Creative Writing at the National University of Singapore. She has been awarded a Glendon & Kathryn Swarthout Prize in Fiction.

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