by Aliza T. Greenblatt
Flash Fiction Chronicles interviewed Mickey Hunt about Every Day Fiction’s Top Story for December, “Deprescience“ a surprising story about the power of memories.
Aliza T. Greenblatt: You are the author of several short stories as well as a few books. What made you decide to pick up the pen?
Mickey Hunt: Since childhood, I’ve always loved stories—hearing, reading, and watching them. And I loved reading them out loud to our children. I’ve read Lord of the Rings out loud four times and most of Harry Potter aloud once. It’s fun giving different voices to the characters (I was a puppeteer once with the Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre). Making up stories is part of that love and it’s gotten to be a habit. I hear an odd idea and start filling in the details. Stories are how we organize the facts of our lives into meaning. We learn truth from stories.
Beginning in January of year 2000 I stopped writing opinion pieces and started a novel instead, which I saw as being a more humanly complete form of persuasion.
ATG: Do you face any particular challenges when writing flash fiction?
MH: Flash fiction. It demands a higher level of perfection than a longer format, but it allows it too, because there’s less material. Flash fiction compared to a longer story is like a word processing program to a manual typewriter, it makes writing more accessible.
ATG: Does anything become easier?
MH: For me, not really, because there’s so much more to learn. I hope I’m getting better. Most of my flash pieces are written fast. I can put down the structure for a story in an hour or less. That’s the fun part. Then, for a couple days I’m always scribbling down notes to add in. That’s fun, too. The hard part is fixing things that come up from critiques. Decision making. What I love about Every Day Fiction is the hands on collaboration from your slush readers and editors. And even though it’s hard sometimes to see the weakness that others see, in the end, it’s fun meeting the challenges.
ATG: Memories are a focal point for both “Deprescience” and your mini biography at the end of the piece. I’m guessing a bit here, but this seems like an important topic to you. Is it or is it just something you’ve been pondering lately?
MH: I’m 60 now and more of my downtime mental life is occupied with memory, since the past is a dominant portion of my existence. There’s so much of it in comparison.
I wrote in the comments that the story grew out of my own thoughts about growing older, and specifically my children becoming more independent and establishing their own lives. We have six children and our home was the center of joyful activity. We still have two children living at home, but at 17 and 20, they are more adults than children. But I went through a month or so recently of missing the children when they were younger. They as little children are gone. We have many photographs of a life that’s gone. And yet I have to see our future as being rich with possibilities. That what was our past in some ways will also be our future. I don’t recall exactly how, but this turned into “Deprescience.” I just learned that “we” are expecting another grandchild, so in a practical way the story is true.
ATG: Can you tell me a little about your writing process?
MH: A story starts with an idea or image, something that jumps out. An odd circumstance or new perspective. The seed then germinates into plot, setting, and characters. A short piece gets written in a passion. A longer piece needs discipline, like a certain number of words per day. I often do extensive research for my stories. A lot of creative aspects of a story come when I’m walking for exercise, when I’m not thinking about anything. The exciting part of writing, other than having people take your fabrications seriously, is when a brilliancy comes to you in the midst of composition. Like, you could never think of that unless you already were deep into the story already. Kind of like finding your way in an old familiar neighborhood after an absence. You could never chart your course from where you are to your destination; you just feel your way and take clues from your surroundings. An example is my current flash in progress. Two words in the text grabbed me by the ears. I played with them on Google search for a couple minutes and found my title, “The Cruller Twist.” I won’t spoil anything if I say it’s about pastries and opera. It started with a remark from my son when he served a cake he made for my wife’s birthday party this month.
ATG: As I read, I found myself wondering if Tim will have to reconstruct the memories of his childhood because he spent his whole life mourning the future. Do you think he’ll be able to salvage it or must he first learn how to live? Will his future be altered because his visions will begin to impact his present decisions?
MH:I don’t know. <laughing> You’re asking for a sequel. But, yes, I imagine he will need to process it all through. It’s too bad that Grandma won’t be there to help him. Likely, not understanding his gift for so long has permanently changed him, but as a writer that pain he endured will give his work power and depth. I suppose in real life a lot of children endure pain and some of them will be diminished and others will turn their pain into triumph for themselves and others.
Will his future be altered? There’s a great body of speculative literature on that question. It’s in the marvelous sci-fi film “Push” 2009 where a character says, “The future is always changing.” So, of course it changes Tim’s future, but exactly how is the question. In Oedipus, and elsewhere, the actions taken to flee from fate actually bring fate about. In the real world we all have a certain level of prescience. I mean we can predict results of our proposed actions or non-actions, the outcomes, and it affects our behavior, which changes the future.
And just because Tim sees the future or some aspects of it as it relates to his own life, doesn’t mean he will see clearly or make the best decisions. “We see through a glass darkly.” The prophets of the Old Testament probably understood little of what they saw. I wrote Tim to be a sincere and compassionate person, so I guess I have hope for him.
ATG: Do you think that because Tim is “remembering” future, he will be disappointed with it when it arrives, like seeing your favorite childhood movie when you’re grown and realizing that it’s not as great as you remember it?
MH: The element of surprise might be missing, but I don’t think his gift alters his life in any essential way. It’s just something he needs to deal with. I mean, the childhood movie might be better than you remember it. Or, marriage may not be all that the princess imagines—the prince of her dreams might become a cad in middle age. Which, now that I think of it, a good bit of what Tim “preknows” will be tragic. The story, though, mostly plays upon a future filled with bright things, those mentioned in his essay.
I never had this in mind when I wrote “Deprescience”—it’s a thought that came to me much later—of how what we’ve lost will exist in our future. This is from my perspective as a Christian, and that’s what God provides in Heaven. I don’t mean to preach, but this is just my take. We gain what we lose, what we give away. The story unintentionally points to this truth.
ATG: What other projects are you working on now? Are there other stories of yours, either upcoming or published, that you can point readers to?
MH: A few of my stories feature an aspect subversive to the dominant culture, and so some readers might find them oppressive. I hope not.
For general audiences, I think the somewhat fantastical “Miss Thurman’s Intervention” might be fun. A young man who is a neatnik does yard work for an older woman who is a hoarder.
I’m trying to find a home now for my sci-fi flash “Spark” which humorously (I hope) explores the question of a finite universe. Congruously, “Spark” is 501 words. I’ll soon be seeking a publisher for “Turtle of the World” a longer paranormal environmental tale about the hemlock tree and its real world nemeses, the woolly adelgid. It brings in a Cherokee creation legend. The story takes place here in western North Carolina.
Then there’s the novelette, “Shoreless Ocean of Eternity” which is a completed “time transcendence” prequel to a futuristic novel, Clouds Fall to Earth about a people who have lived on dirigibles for 1200 years. Writing flash fiction, I’m afraid, is a procrastination from this project.
Once I get tired of submitting a story, I put it on my own website. Readers can find these orphans and links to my few published stories there.
ATG: Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with us. Best of luck with all your writing endeavors.
MH: Sure. Thanks so much for the opportunity, and for this amazing publication. You really have something impressive going here.
Mickey Hunt holds a BS degree in Agriculture from Berea College in Kentucky and a BS in Ag Education from Washington State University. Chaotic terrain, as in his website domain name http://www.chaoticterrain.com is an astrogeological term used to denote planetary surfaces where features such as ridges, cracks, and plains appear jumbled and enmeshed with one another.
Aliza T. Greenblatt works in a firmly non-writing field when the sun is up and writes under a desk lamp at night. Fueled by a sheer love of books and a tyrannical imagination, she writes the stories that appear over her morning coffee and won’t leave her alone until they are put down on paper. She writes, raves, and blogs at http://atgreenblatt.com. and on Twitter @AtGreenblatt