Archive for September, 2011

by Rumjhum Biswas

Vanessa Gebbie is a familiar name, regardless of whether you are in the USA, UK or India. Nevertheless, my column necessitates an introduction. So here goes a quick overview: Vanessa Gebbie is an award winning writer, having won the Willesden Prize and other prizes in Bridport, Fish,  among others. She is the author of two short story collections, Storm Warning and Tales from a Glass Bubble, and is the editor of Short Circuit: A Guide to the Art of the Short Story.  Her first novel A Coward’s Tale is forthcoming  from Bloomsbury. Vanessa is Welsh and lives in Sussex, England.

Vanessa’s website gives a much more vivid picture of her as a person and writer at  Her blog, Vanessa Gebbie’s News,  has old news, but is relevent and enjoyable, and there are two interviews of Vanessa, which are must reads, one at Nik Perring’s Blog and the other at Prime Mincer Literary Journal by Sequoia Nagamatsu where Vanessa in her inimitable way, imparts lessons, entertains and shares. Here too, as you read along, the experience is similar to taking a walk with her and when you finally sit down on a garden bench, you have a parable to mull over.

Rumjhum Biswas: You are a multi-award winning short story writer, adjudicator, editor, teacher, poet, and mum and wife and friend and all those other everyday things. How do you keep the writer (in you) quiet when you are the other things in your life?

Vanessa Gebbie: What a list…. Must admit I handle the different pulls on my time with great difficulty. I find it really hard to keep the writer quiet when I’m being a mom, wife, sister or friend.  Also, and maybe more importantly for the purposes of this interview – I find it even harder to keep the mom, wife, sister and friend part of me quiet when I am being a writer. I have to get away from home to do any sustained serious work.

For the last six years now, I’ve been going over to Ireland, to a wonderful place, Anam Cara Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat, where I stay for a week or two at a time. There, I am nothing but a writer.

It’s important, I think, to give ourselves the time and the space to be “just a writer.” So often, all our other roles crash in and muddy the time we try so hard to set aside. I feel that is especially hard for women – and am running a fab retreat just for women writers in a couple of months time. Giving them a chance to focus, to breathe, not have to be anyone’s mother, or wife, etc etc just for two days.

Can I do a shameless plug? ‘The Coward’s Tale’ comes out in the UK in November and in the US in the New Year, from Bloomsbury. They’ve just put the first two chapters on the website – very exciting. Have a read, for free – The Coward’s Tale.

RB: What is a day in Vanessa Gebbie’s writing life like?

 VG: Unless I am away in Ireland, it is fairly unstructured, but everything I do feds  into a writing life somehow.  I usually have several stories in various stages of completion. I try to do some flash writing most days. I write a poem now and again, if the right feeling overtakes.  I spend a long time planning for workshops. I read, a lot, but never enough. I waste time on the internet. But at the back of my mind, I am also planning the next novel – which will get written in the same way as the Coward’s Tale – in short intense bursts. I love short fiction for its intensity and versatility, the way it echoes in the reader’s head – I hope I can create a longer form that encompasses those attributes.

RB: What is your favourite length in a short story? You also write a lot of flash fiction; what according to you are the advantages and also disadvantages of this form?

VG: I am not ducking the question when I say I don’t have one. Every piece of fiction has its own right length, I think.  A story feels ‘right’ at the length it was meant to be.

You can feel it when the writer tries to push the envelope, tries to add enough words to make a good flash into a short story, for example. Or to extend a flash a few hundred words to cross a minimum word count.  Or indeed, you can feel it when a writer slices too rigorously, without an ear for sound, for rhythm in sentences.

As for flash – it is so hard to define, everyone has his own thoughts on the matter, and I guess that’s part of its charm. It’s a slippery beast! And like all slippery beasts, gives the impression it is easy to catch hold of – when actually, it is anything but. The advantages of flash are those of any fiction – markets are out there, for the finding. But one advantage flash has (although it doesn’t sound much) is that it is great as a filler, especially for print journals. Flash is a superb discipline, for the writer, and for the reader. It is not something to gulp in one bite – but something to linger over, to reflect on. Often a good flash will continue to reveal its layers on second or third read. Like the best poems. Flash as a process, freeing up, writing to a prompt, for example, as I do, maybe in a timed session, can produce extraordinary results.

But I think there are disadvantages too. As ever. Two sides to everything. The explosion of markets for flash, some of which are less rigorous than others, have made writers think short short fiction is easy. There is an awful lot of rubbish out there, as is the case with all types of writing, sadly – especially on the internet – which reinforces this view, maybe gives it a bad name in some quarters.  But as you know, writing a good piece of flash fiction is anything but easy, and has often taken a very long time.

It’s useful to look at what it isn’t – flash is not a scene from something longer, it’s not a character sketch, not an anecdote with no echoes. You can’t afford to use the same constructs you use when writing a novel. Or even a short story. Every word, every punctuation mark, every space really does need to be considered, and has to earn its place. Sometimes it’s a story, sometimes it hints at a story – and that’s where it is most successful, for me, anyway – when the reader is complicit, and makes what is missing into part of the whole. Sure, a flash can be worked up into something longer… but unless the whole modus operandi changes too,  I think the writer risks losing something quite precious in the effort.

RB: In your busy life, how do you pace your writing? Do you switch from one to another when the mood strikes or do you follow a system, jotting down ideas to work on after you’re done with whatever form you are working on at that time?

VG: I am chaotic. Creativity, for me, anyway, is an ungovernable thing. It comes when it wishes.  I work at what comes, trying to remember ideas, trying to snatch moments to write things down. I will always have many things on the go at once. I’m a Gemini. Maybe that helps, who knows?

RB: Where do you most feel comfortable when you are writing? Do you have a favourite spot? Or a favourite thing or pet you like having around you when you work?

VG: I think I’ve answered this above – the writing retreat I go to, Anam Cara, is owned by an experienced editor from the US, Sue Booth-Forbes, who has run this great place for twelve years or more. There are only five guests at any one time, with their own rooms, desks, broadband access, and all rooms are extremely comfortable. Guests, especially those from theUS, seem to stay for up to six weeks at a stretch, having obtained a grant to do so. The house is full of books, from poetry to writing theory, from short stories to myth and legend, from novels to local history. There are some four shelves full to groaning with published books written whilst there, in part, donated by grateful alumni. It is absolutely magic.

The day is structured to make the most of the time, quiet is paramount, as is respect for the other guests and their work.

Pets? Sue has a dog, Jack, who is the best editor in the world. If guests share work in the evenings, he will do a hasty exit if he doesn’t like something! She also has ducks, chickens. And 30 acres of Irish heaven, including a river, a cascade, an island…shall I stop now?

RB: What do you do when a great idea strikes you and you are away from your writing place?

VG: Panic? I usually have something to write with, and on. But I have been known to set an idea to music – make a few words fit a line of a song – to remember it later. I have also been known to ask the person sitting in the passenger seat of the car to take dictation, if I’m driving.

RB: Who were/are your favourite authors of flash fiction and/or short stories?

VG: Oh my goodness, where do I start? There are so many. If you read great websites, you will find excellent contemporary writers, excellent work – my favourite is Smokelong Quarterly.  Explore the archive, take the trouble to read the writers’ biographies, which often list other places they’ve been published. Explore those places too.  Then there’s Italo Calvino. Margaret Attwood.

RB: What according to you makes up a great piece of flash fiction?

VG: If it is so well crafted I forget I’m reading – see answer to question 10.

RB:  In your opinion what is the worst thing a flash fiction writer can do and kill the story?

VG: Feed it too many words!

RB: When you are given a bunch of stories to judge for a contest or select for an anthology, what compelling thing do you look for? What would make you sit up and say, this is the one? How often does such a moment occur in your editing/judging life?

VG: I look for voice, for authenticity, for intrigue, for confidence. If a writer can deliver that lot, I am secure in the knowledge that this is a writer I can trust to deliver me a great reading experience, and I forget I’m reading, completely. Doesn’t happen often, sadly! So many writers seem to think a flash piece is just something less than so many words. It isn’t. The words, the spaces between words, all have to weave together to create a tight tapestry. No holes.

RB: What advice would you give to newbie writers of flash fiction?

VG: Read as much as you can. Read slowly. Watch for the sub-texts. Read BAD flashes, too. Look how thin they are. See how writers try to make bits of short story  pretend to be flashes.

RB: Does flash fiction seriously have a future or is it just a fad? Is it for folks who really don’t want to read?

VG: Flash certainly is not a fad. It has been around for centuries under different names. Maybe the name “flash”doesn’t help it – it sounds “weightless” when actually, it is often very weighty, thematically. Tell Italo Calvino his work was a fad, or Aesop in his fables – or Charles Baudelaire, (whose prose poems seem to me more akin to flash fictions) or today’s Margaret Attwood,  indeed, any great writers who have harnessed the power of concision.

Is it for folks who don’t want to read? Hmm. Maybe people try flash and skip through in a few moments, skimming for “what happens.” Maybe they shut the book, shake their heads and wonder what the fuss is about. I’ve seen really unfair reviews on marvelous flash work read both in print and online, on Amazon, for example, from readers who obviously don’t have a clue how to read it.  It is not what happens on the page, so often, its what happens in your head when you read. Slow down. Give it a chance to work its magic.

RB: Is it fair to ask you to give us another rendition of what the word “story” means to you? ( Even if we say pretty please?

 VG: How about I give you a scribble written a while back, unpublished except on my old blog, all about writing stories, and the magic that is our own creativity?

A Flying Fish Tale

It is a little-known fact, but fact it is, that far away in a country we now call Japan- and so many years ago we have no number small enough to record the year – all the fishermen were poets and tellers of stories. They worked in all weathers on boats made of paper, layer upon layer, glued together with the spittle of birds. And these boats were as light and as fast as the flying fish they sought.

Every day, with the exception of the annual celebrations commemorating the appearance of the first hair on the chin of the young Emperor, the villages and towns were supplied with copious amounts of flying fish. Eating flying fish was thought to impart great power. It was believed that flying fish were the souls of drowned warriors killed in ancient battles with invaders who breached the horizon in boats made from still-growing canes of green bamboo. To eat the fish not only imparted great strength and the sharpest wits, but if enough was consumed the eater was accorded the privilege of being able to commune with his ancestors.

But I digress.

The makers of poems and stories could not make their words on land. To stand on an earth that was unmoving, surrounded by mountains that merely stared back even when decked with snow or plum blossom, was a poor substitute for the sea. (Indeed, the old word for ‘a poor substitute’ is almost exactly the same as that for ‘earth’.) No- they needed the wind in their faces and on their chests, the skin nearest their minds and their hearts.

Their words came as they fished. The lightest words they made into sailcloth. The strongest words they wove into nets. And the heaviest words, the ones that came the hardest, from somewhere deep within their souls, they fashioned these into anchors and anchor-chains.

Every boat fished its own apportioned section of the sea and never trespassed into the neighbouring fishing ground. You see, the seabed is never flat but mirrors the earth, and the anchor-chains of each boat were made with an exact and secret number of links allowing the fishermen to drop anchor exactly in their right place. Their paper boats would be held secure with just enough play to rise and fall on the waves, whilst the fishermen spread their nets in a fine mist, catching the fish as they flew by.

In this way, for countless centuries – a greater number than has yet been invented – the poets and storyteller fishermen nourished the country we now callJapan. Their lightest words billowed and carried them through the most treacherous winds. Their strongest words caught flying fish in numbers not recordable. And their heaviest words, the ones that were hardest to make, tethered them to their chosen fishing grounds, holding their paper boats steady and safe until it was time to head for home.

All was well. Until late one day, as darkness fell, in the week before the celebration of the first hair on the young emperor’s chin, under the cover of darkness, a boat made of the still-growing canes of green bamboo steered by a single oar, approached the sleeping fleet.

The lone sailor was a small man who wanted to become a fisherman. He wanted to catch his own flying fish and eat more than he could afford to buy at the market, rendering himself able to speak to his ancestors. But did not want to spend the years it took to make enough of his own words to weave sailcloth, make nets and forge heavy anchors and chains.

The bamboo boat floated between the sleeping fishing boats, and the small man looked round very carefully until he found the things he wanted. He climbed quietly onto one boat, and took the sails. He took the nets from another, and the anchor and chain from a third, then, on the tide, he floated out of the harbour and out to sea. Once in the open water, he secured the sails to a spar, and the wind filled them. The bamboo boat was carried many miles out into the ocean, past the fishing grounds, and on, towards the horizon. And when he was out of sight of the land and its few lights, he prepared to catch flying fish.

He trimmed the sails and set up the nets, raising them into the air on thin willow whips. And he waited. He did not have to wait long. Soon, flying fish flew into the nets in their dozens, and the small man rejoiced, and began singing to the fish.

But the weight of the fish caused the boat to drift… it began to circle lazily, and the next shoal of fish flew straight past. To catch more, the boat needed to be secured, to stay in one place.

The small man stopped singing and tied the end of the anchor chain to the boat with thick ropes. And he heaved the anchor over. The anchor fell down through the water, the chain curling down, deeper and darker, while the man watched and waited for the boat to stop drifting.

But the sea was deeper than the length of the chain. The anchor stopped dead in its fall, and the bamboo boat began to tip, pulled down slowly but surely by its great weight. And with no one to watch save a few flying fish, the bamboo boat was drawn beneath the water, down and down, until the anchor tethered it finally, deep in a crevasse. Where both it and he remain to this day.

It is said in those parts, that when the wind drops, and when the sea is calm, if you listen carefully, you can hear the last song of the would-be fisherman, a sad high song to the flying fish he caught just once, trying to persuade them to let him speak.


Rumjhum Biswas is a writer based in Chennai, India.

by Michelle Reale

 “Meg Tuite’s Domestic Apparition is sublime.”

This is the opening line of Anna March’s review in the September issue of Pank. She is writing about Meg Tuite’s recently released novel of interconnected stories. 

Michelle Reale: Meg, your flash pieces are often very poetic, but with your new novel Domestic Apparition, you are primarily a fiction writer, correct?

Meg Tuite: I publish short stories and flash primarily, but I’ve always been drawn to poetic prose and poetry. When I was a kid I only wrote poetry and many of my favorite writers are poets. I love to memorize poetry. I get so much more out of poems each time I recite them. In writing, I look for those transformative metaphors, similes and descriptions that not only stay with me long after I’ve read the piece, but also service the telling of the story through an inimitable visual.

Michelle: I’ve read a lot of your work from your micro-fiction to Domestic Apparition. Speak to us specifically about the joys and challenges of writing in the short form.

Meg: I love the challenge of working a story down into a tight piece that still tells the tale, but with as few words as possible. There are so many magazines, some with limits of 420 characters as in Short, Fast and Deadly Magazine. I love the immediacy of the medium–of reading a story that is not only compressed, but memorable in the images that are presented.

Michelle: Do you ever write a long piece and whittle it down to a flash? Has a flash ever turned into a much longer piece?

Meg: I’ve done both. The few flash chapters in Domestic Apparition were drawn out from short stories and I worked them into pieces that stood on their own. I’ve also written flash that has been published already, but is part of a novel in progress. I love flash because every word, every moment is key to the story, whereas with a novel or a longer short story I have more play to work with flashbacks and exposition. I usually have a few long stories in progress while I have a few flash I’m moving through in the mix. I definitely love writing both.

Michelle: How do you choose your themes? Or do they choose you?

Meg: It varies depending on the piece, of course. Sometimes a literary magazine is asking for a specific theme and then I just go with it. Sometimes I have a memory that I want to capture or parts of conversations that I have written down that I want to work into a story. I also love prompts from other writers and have a few online groups where we give each other prompts and a half-hour to write and go with it. I have used those as first drafts and published quite a few in the last few years. I love to work within parameters that are set as well as free form from people I’ve known in the past or strange subjects that I hear about and want to delve into.

Michelle: I was struck by your piece “The History of Pink Glass When I Hold It” and the characterization of the terminally ill mother in the story. That woman and that ancient glass had been quiet for a long while and now both of them were “broken” both literally and metaphorically. The line “The affluent superiority of this object was a monarch that strained against my mother’s skin,” moved me very much. I want to get inside your thought process concerning this line—tell us how it came about.

Meg: My working job for the last fifteen years has been hospice care. I have just started to explore those characters and incidents working with the dying. In this story, the woman has hit the brink. She’s been lying in a bed for so long and still she finds herself alive. She has a collection of pink antique glass that she has coveted for decades. She decides one day that she can’t take dying anymore and breaks the glass that holds her ice chips to cut her wrist. Her action is now in the history of that glass.

The affluent superiority, meaning a possessed piece that is rare and has been passed down through generations, a monarch, if you will, has now become an object that has strayed from its path and is no longer just a beautiful artifact to admire on a shelf, but has become an active part of this woman’s will to die. That last line when the narrator says that she can feel the heartbeat in that glass as she pulls it away is the key. I believe an inanimate object is powerful when it becomes animate in a story. If matter is made up of almost nothing, than everything is as animate as the next, and I try to work with that when I can in a piece.

Michelle: You are an amazingly prolific writer who is one of the most encouraging authors I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with—you promote the writing of others more than you do your own. Why is that so important to you?

Meg: I am excited by this community of writers that I am surrounded by in my community and on Facebook. When I read a story that I love I want to share it with everyone else. If it is something that moves me, then I am sure that it will do the same for others. I am inspired by the success and skill of other writers out there and don’t even think about it. I just post it.

We all know that we’re in this together and there are very few of us that get paid for what we write, let alone get much acknowledgement. The least we can do is get some more readers out there reading and enjoying the work!

Michelle: Your recent micro-fictions in Pipe Dream were awesome. Each began so simply, “She has the wandering eye. . . ,” “I was a can of tuna. . . ,” “Think of how a barbecue works,” and “We buy a new mattress.” They start out so simple, then startle and delight.

Meg Tuite, let me challenge you to write a micro-fiction with the starting sentence: “The animal sitter let herself in and Sassy walked right up to her.”

Meg: The animal sitter let herself in and Sassy walked right up to her. Sassy, the name had brought up the image of some yappy little number that wore outfits and bit at your ankles. The real Sassy looked more like one of those mastiffs that guarded the houses in Tibet and tore someone limb from limb if they got too close. Jill, the animal sitter, had always imagined herself a dog whisperer, able to befriend any animal, until Sassy started sniffing her and growling.

When the couple got back the next day, Jill was watching TV with Sassy lying at her feet, passed out. “Wow. Sassy doesn’t really take to most people. Look how relaxed she is. You’re amazing.” Jill smiled and said, “You know, I guess it’s just a gift.” She took the cash they gave her and stuffed it in her pocket, fingering the empty syringe next to it, as she walked quickly to the door.

Michelle: Stellar, Meg, as I expected!

Meg: Thank you so much, Michelle. I really enjoyed your interview! It was an honor!


Meg Tuite’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Berkeley Fiction Review, 34th Parallel, Valpairaso Literary Review, One, the Journal, Monkeybicycle, Hawaii Review and Boston Literary MagazineShe is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press. She has a monthly column “Exquisite Quartet” up at Used Furniture Review as well as blogging at  Her novel, the above mentioned Domestic Apparition (2011), is now available through San Francisco Bay Press.



 By Len Hazell

Ever heard of intertexuality?  If not, perhaps it is something to look into.  Intertexuality is not some kinky literary fetish, but it was quite a buzzword in literary theory about ten years ago. Before it became popular in certain circles, the word meant:

“The reference to another, separate and distinct, text within a text.”

Like saying a man stranded on a desert island was doing a “Robinson Crusoe.” However, the rise of magic realism and postmodernism subtly changed the meaning so it slowly began to mean:

“Combining samples of previously published text to form a new and original work.”

To clarify, the more traditional words “allusion” or “influenced by” are somewhat the same thing.

In Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie tells us of creatures that live in that eponymous sea called “Plennti-more Fish.” These fish consume the stories that make up the sea, mix them in their bowels and poop out new tales for the fishermen to catch. The writer–the intertexualist–scours archives of past published works, old TV programs, films, cartoons, comic, pulp novels, and literature, searching for tasty morsels, gobbling them up, and then regurgitating the mix into a new story of his or her own.

A  fun example is what happened in the studios of Hanna-Barbera. “Top Cat” was a rewrite of “The Phil Silvers Show.” “Huckleberry Hound” recycled Bing Crosby projects. “Pixie and Dixie” creators reworked their own “Tom and Jerry” material for MGM and most famously of all, “The Flintstones” was an animated version of the hit sit-com “The Honeymooners.” Animators referenced old shows, their own shows, books (remember those TV ancient cartoons with Eliza crossing the frozen Ohio from Uncle Tom’s Cabin?), myths, and legends.

The tradition, though was not yet known as “intertextuality,” had begun for the modern era.

It was used with caution at first. Fear of a copyright suit made intertexualists cautious, but as time went on, and copyright law became more and more obscure and confused, writers became bolder.

Example 1:

An ex-soldier declares war on crime after his family is gunned down in a mob hit.

A former Marine and weapons expert, turned pacifist takes up his gun again and becomes a vigilante seeking out and killing criminals after his wife and daughter are raped and murdered in a mugging.

A retired government agent becomes a pharmacist and forswears violence until the mob demands protection money from him and kills his wife.  He dons a black suit bearing a skull emblem and become a vigilante avenging himself on the mob.

Sound familiar?  They appear to be versions of the highly popular comic book series and film franchise, “The Punisher.” Only they are not.

Number one is the origin story of “The Executioner,”a thirty-seven-issue-strong series of paperback books by Don Pendleton starting in 1969.

Number two is the storyline of a 1972 novel, Death Wish by Brian Garfield.

Number three is the origin story of The Black Terror created by acclaimed novelist Patricia Highsmith in 1941 while working for Nedor Comics.

“The Punisher” (Frank Castle) was assembled and put in to print for the first time in February 1974 by writer Gerry Conway and artists John Romita, Sr. and Ross Andru under the guidance of Marvel supremo Stan ‘the man’ Lee. The intertextuality chain is plain to see the works listed above are the parents of the “The Punisher.”

Why?  Frank Castle has all the most appealing aspects of his predecessors rolled in to one. The Punisher is ex-military, ex-police(or FBI depending on which version you read or see), a weapons expert, a scientist, an utterly ruthless vigilante and is unencumbered by any law, but his own. He has a cool black suit with a skull motif, big guns and most importantly a dead wife and family to justify his insanity.

“The Punisher” has it all, taking the best from its predecessors.

Example Two:

A man murdered by a religious group leaves a clue, written in his own blood, which only a genius could decipher.

An Albino holy man, a member of an obscure religious sect, carries out a bizarre plot by his masters involving theft and assassination.

A centuries-old religious secret is revealed showing that the Holy Grail was a person, not an object.

Obviously The Da Vinci Code right? Wrong.

Number one is A Study in Scarlet written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which was first published in 1887.

Number two is Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, first published in 1936.

Number three is both The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln in 1982  and The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ, a book written by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince and published in 1997.

(The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was published in 2003.)

The final and most startling example I have kept till last because it shows just how far-reaching and how successful “intertextuality” can be if handled by a writer with some talent for mix and match and a good eye for a contemporary story.

Example three:

An evil wizard, long thought dead, returns to bring havoc and chaos to the world. Only the descendant of his most hated enemy can stop him.

A good wizard walks down a road extinguishing street lamps as he goes.

Magic users make good their escape using a bewitched flying car.

A child is sent to a school of witchcraft to be trained in the mystic arts.

A well meaning man keeps a giant Spider as a pet.

Chess pieces come to life and fight on the board.

A boy chews a special food and is able to breath under water.

An evil wizard cannot be killed while his soul is hidden elsewhere.

There is a mirror that shows your heart’s desire.

An unpopular teacher turns out to be a hero.

Okay, ten is enough. I could go on for hours. It’s the Harry Potter series isn’t it? Only it is not.

Number one is of course The Lord of the Rings, 1954–55 by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.

Number two is Bell Book and Candle by John Van Druten, 1950.

Number three is The Passionate Witch by Thorne Smith and Norman Matson, 1941.

Number four is The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy in 1974 and A Wizard of Earthsea, 1968 by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Number five is Tarantula a 1955 schlock horror movie.

Number six is Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There 1871 by Lewis Carroll.

Number seven is “Marine Boy” (TV Series 1968–1969).

Number eight is Captain Sinbad (1963 film version).

Number nine is Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1808.

Number ten is Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton 1933 and even more so The Browning Version by Terence Rattigan 1948.

JK Rowling is the new master of modern intertextuality and it has served her well. Give it try, decide on an idea to write about, google who has done something similar before, pick and mix the popular bits and who knows, you may have people lining up at midnight for your latest efforts too.


Len Hazell is 46 years old from the north east of England, holds a degree in Media, and is majoring in writing for the print and broadcast media.  He has published in various magazines in the UK, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and has had several plays produced throughout England.  He is currently working on his own musical adaptation of Arsenic and old Lace which he hope to stage in 2011. Len can be contacted at His music is available at

by Jim Harrington

Markets Added

  • FutureCycle Flash (1,000, unknown) publishes all styles
  • Dirty Noir (1,500, weekly) publishes dirty realism and noir

Editor Interviews Added

  • Unshod Quills (1,500, quarterly) publishes literary fiction
  • Dirty Noir (1,500, weekly) publishes dirty realism and noir


Jim Harrington discovered flash fiction in 2007, and he’s read, written, studied, and agonized over the form since. His Six Questions For. . . blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” He’s also the Markets Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles’ Flash Markets Page. He can be contacted at jpharrin [at] gmail [dot] com.

Third of Three Parts

So, Kevin Wallis, the torture is almost over and you can go back to hiding behind the grinning nice guy on your Facebook page. I hope everyone has taken the opportunity to read the first two segments of this interview.  You are very entertaining.

Here’s your last question.  You say in the endnote of in your first story, “Redemption Song,” that it’s perhaps your favorite story.  As a reader, I want to know what the next two are so I can go read those right away. Can you talk about your second favorite story from the collection and why you like it?  Then maybe a third one that has different qualities?

For me, I love the conversation and camaraderie in the camping story, “The Taking of Michael McConnolly.” That story feels so authentic.  Made me think about Alien, the first one, and how that scary story felt so real even though

it was in a space ship and in the future.  It was the characters.

Kevin: I’ve always seen authors respond to this question with “That’s impossible to answer because I see all my stories as my babies,” and I always said, “Yeah, right.”

So in answer to your question, uh, that’s impossible to answer because…  Well, I’ll stop short of the ridiculous comparison between stories and spawn. But yeah, this is harder to answer than I thought.

Many of my stories mean a lot to me for vastly different reasons. “The Lesser of Two Hearts” was my first published story, so it has a special place in my soiled, black heart.

“Granddad’s Lake” is my most personal, “Jacob’s Voice” and “The Lunatic Brigade” have been called my scariest. “The Thing in the Tunnels” draws from many sentimental occurrences from my childhood so I like that one too.

“The Bad Girl Woods” is my most emotional (I’ve actually teared up reading it, which either means it’s good, or I’m a sap.) I would say this is my second or third favorite, but upon rereading it, I think I could’ve shortened it by a thousand words or so.

So here goes: My second favorite story is “The Taking of Michael McConnolly,” and I would’ve said this even before it was voted an Honorable Mention by Ellen Datlow’s annual Best Horror of the Year (just thought I’d throw that little tidbit in there.) All the people in this story are based on the group of guys I went camping with on our annual Man Weekend held every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

I came up with the story while, uh, drunk off my gourd around the campfire one night, and most of the events are based on stupid stuff we actually did that weekend. Plus, it was extremely gratifying killing off my brothers and buddies in the most diabolical ways I could imagine.

I would say my third favorite from the book is “Rebirth.” This one hasn’t gotten much attention, but I personally believe it may be my best story. I like the epic scale, and I’m proud of the visuals I managed to convey. The idea of a struggling writer witnessing the end of the world and deciding there is nothing else to do but write about it is something I think a lot of us writers can relate to.

One of my favorite aspects of writing is hearing which of my stories readers like or hate. So for any of your readers who haven’t drifted off to sleep by now, I’d love to hear from them at