Our featured interview for February is with Pamelyn Casto. She is twice a Pushcart Prize nominee, has published feature-length articles on flash fiction in Writer’s Digest (and in their other publications), Fiction Southeast, Abstract Magazine, and OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters. Her essay on flash fiction and myth appears in Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips From Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field and her 8,000-word essay on flash fiction is included in the four-volume Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading. Her latest 5,000-word article is the lead essay in Critical Insights: Flash Fiction (2017). She is Contributing Editor for Flash Discourse at OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters.
Thank you for joining us, Pamelyn.

Q: The term “Flash Fiction” implies a definition or descriptive limits. Could you define FF in, say, three sentences?

A: I feel it should be left without a decisive definition. We can come up with some useful working definitions but the genre is always inventing and re-inventing itself. Flash fiction is protean and it refuses to remain in one shape. About as far as I’m willing to go is to say it’s short, up to 1,000 or 1,500 words (although the upper limit seems to attract the label of sudden fiction). And it often provides an important and satisfying insight, an “Aha!” moment of understanding for the reader. Beyond that it’s up to creative writers to show us what it is and what it can do. For the most part I tend to agree with E. M. Cioran who says “To embrace a thing by definition, however arbitrary . . . is to reject that thing, to render it insipid and superfluous, to annihilate it.” We don’t want that to happen to protean flash fiction with our too hasty and too easy definitions.

Q: To most readers, the term ‘fiction’ implies a story that has a beginning, middle, and an end or completion. Would such a description apply to FF?

A: Flash fiction certainly can have a beginning, middle, and end, but flash fiction can also tell a story without that traditional structure. Many fine flash fiction pieces are plotless, and rely more on tone or mood or character depiction than plot. Some flash fiction makes use of the Freytag pyramid (but begin the story at the mid-way point)...


Interview continues on Flashes < here >