By reading… no, really! I discovered reading for pleasure at a late age – sixth grade. After that, I was hooked. I always had an active imagination so the two worked together to the point that at the end of middle school I wanted to be a writer. The high school counselor interviewing me asked what I wanted to be and I told him, “a cop or writer – if I could learn to spell.” Alas, that was not to be until many, many years later.
Fast forward to Facebook. I started making comments and rants which required more thought and structure. Next, during a conversation with a friend about the books I had read recently, he told me “you should write.” So I did.
Believe me, this is an extremely abridged version. I think I could write an autobiography based on this topic alone.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
My first serious writing was a book. The basic manuscript took me three months to write… editing, now that’s a different story. The process being stalled, I wrote a second book in another genre; the start of a trilogy.
I write in spurts, in between I practice with short stories and I tried flash fiction. I thought it would be a challenge since I am usually verbose. It has its own specific structure. I found it matched my tendency to write poetry and develop storylines in vignettes.
Describe your writing process.
As I mentioned before, I write in spurts. Usually in summer for some reason. Once I get started it is hard to stop. Once I stop it is hard to get started again.
None of the flash fiction or short stories I’ve written required any detailed planning. They can’t be overly complicated to start with.
I find outlines to be cumbersome and frustrating to the creative process. However, ideas come along that I put down in free form. Usually a few short words, paragraph or so at most, to describe an idea or vignette. Those may then become a timeline. I find vignettes much more helpful than outlines, even if I have to change them later.
On the other hand, when needed, I have created very detailed timelines to stay on track describing action/interaction when things get complicated. I have also timelined sub-sections and chapters to properly synchronize story lines between separate occurrences/characters that eventually meet.
I sometimes write vignettes out of order. I wrote an ending for my first book when on page fifty in the story. Outside of that I usually write a story in a linear manner.
I have several different modes of writing; get the story down then return to edit, edit on the fly, and fill in between vignettes. When I finish a page/chapter/section, I will go back over it adding, subtracting, editing before moving on. I do this multiple times. Sometimes I have ideas that present themselves later in the story that I must backfill.
A story is a very living thing to me with its own personality sometimes going places I did not plan. Structure and organization is important but so is writing in the moment. That is part of the creative process, in my opinion.
What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?
A simple idea, vignette, and/or phrase. The general idea of junk email scams getting out into the broader universe and causing problems and an accomplished diplomat having to deal with it was an idea. “Gertrude blinked,” was one phrase that brought it home.
What are you working on now?
My first book, Whore’s Blood – The Old Victorian Murders, is a dark and edgy psychological thriller set in Los Angeles. it tells the story of a hard-luck private detective and client trying to find her missing friend. Meanwhile, a rookie cop finds himself over his head trying to catch a psycho killer who has the city panicked. Eventually, they will find they have something in common.
Future titles in the series will be – Bashing Happy, Dem Bones, and Farmer in the Dell.
I am currently writing an old school Science Fiction trilogy. It is a planetary odyssey – The Chronicles of *Jeck: Hopes Flower, Desert Flower, and Flower of Empire. Lieutenant Jack Abercromby Smith is shipwrecked on the other side of a planet from his crew and must traverse three continents to fulfill his duty; easier said than done. Along the way, he must rely on others, some human, some not, even to the point they must become his memory.
* a mispronunciation of Jack