We were able to speak with Natasha Leullier about her piece “Earthly Concerns” in Issue Seven!
I think the most horrifying part about this piece is the loss of teeth. Of all the body parts that could have been chosen, why did you decide on teeth?
The loss of my teeth is a recurring nightmare, something I have dreamt about almost once a week my entire life. I hear this is a common dream for many people, so I wanted to use that as the starting point for a short piece. It’s visceral and disturbing, but also simple and human.
Is there something you’d like the readers to take away from your story? Is there a message here?
There are so many apocalyptic books and movies out there where the characters reach this exalted state of mind: they are survivors and heroes, and life is beautiful. But you know what? In real life, the shit doesn’t end when the bad guys are defeated. People are damaged and hurt. They might have survived, but that doesn’t mean life is beautiful. That’s what I was going for here. My character survived, but in the end he can only care about his lost teeth; that’s his reality and immediate concern. It’s the opposite of an inspirational piece.
What do you find to be the hardest about consolidating and writing stories as flash fiction?
Because every word in flash fiction has to count for something, writing and editing becomes a sort of mindboggling puzzle. If you were to pick any word or sentence and ask me about it, I can tell you exactly why I chose to write it that way. Nothing is random, and that requires hard work.
I thought that the imagery in this story was what really pulled you in. What was it like surrounding yourself, mentally, with these images and details while writing this piece?
I tend to become my characters as I write. This guy is kind of a jerk, but he’s lonely and beaten down. The events unfolding are momentous and his body has received a shock. I tried to visualize all the events that had brought him to that moment, and how he would describe them as he tries to distract/console himself from the fact that he has no teeth.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
I’m strongly inspired by American Gothic writing. I think my story “Laundry Day” makes good use of that style. Keep an eye out for the thematic word play:
I recently tried my hand at writing erotic fiction. The result is poetic and beautiful (can I say that about my own piece?), and very tasteful. It reads a bit like a fairytale: