Mini-Interview with Jen Fawkes

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

Flash provides me with the very thing – closure, satisfaction, the rainbow’s end – that long-form fiction dangles before me like an ever-diminishing carrot. I write both long-form and flash, but I always know instantly when an idea is best suited to flash. It feels compressed and urgent, and is driven by an image rather than an idea. For me, good flash needs be in some way bold. And you shouldn’t be able to read it without feeling at least 2-3 things.

What’s your writerly lifejacket: character or plot?

I’m going to say both in equal measure. I love constructing and following characters, but I really am a sucker for plot. I just like it when things happen. Large movements. Heavy thuds. Shrieks.

Writing style: Quick and messy or slow and precise?

Slow and precise. 100%.

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

My disappointments, fears, doubts, hang-ups, mistakes, and neuroses. Is there another way to answer this question?

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

Bess Winter, whose flash “Signs” won the ASF Shorter Fiction Prize as well as a Pushcart, and has appeared in many other places, like Wigleaf. Many other flash writers have knocked my socks off recently, including Jan Stinchcomb and Caroline Kim.

What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?

As ironic as this may sound, in a flash interview, my longest short stories. Long short fiction is going the way of the Dodo. The story I still think of as my best is 28 manuscript pages, and it remains unsold after 8-9 years of submitting, and I mean everywhere. People seem to have no more use for long stories. Which is good news for writers of flash! So hooray!

BIO: “Jen Fawkes has been a waitress, a tax preparer, a bartender, a museum interpreter, a cleaning woman, and a college professor. Her debut story collection, MANNEQUIN AND WIFE, is forthcoming in September 2020 from LSU Press. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in One Story, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, Barrelhouse, Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2019 Pinch Award in Fiction and the 2019 John Gardner Memorial Fiction Prize from Harpur Palate; her stories have also won prizes from Salamander, Washington Square, and others. Jen is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee as well as a two-time finalist for the Italo Calvino Prize in Fabulist Fiction. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband and several imaginary friends.”

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