Flash fiction often captures particularly moments in time. Are there moments you find yourself returning to for inspiration?
I think my flash fiction conjures up loneliness and isolation in its characters. Never thought about it until you asked the question so I went back and looked at other published stories and, yes, there seems to be a theme.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?.
Actually I have two if that’s okay. The most recent is a long term love story set in a weird situation. It engendered a warm glow as I wrote it—being with someone you love for a long time is very special. It’s called “Philosophy of Black Holes and Time Warps.” https://themolotovcocktail.com/vol-9/killer-flash/black-holes-time-warps/
The other is called, “The Alley” in Aphelion Science Fiction. There is a scene where a convenience store clerk gives a homeless vet a few bucks even though she knows he’s going to buy drugs with the money. It was a scene of misguided compassion: http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2018/04/TheAlley.html
What do you find to be the hardest about consolidating and writing stories as flash fiction?
Flash fiction requires you to create a plot with a beginning, middle and end in under a thousand words. A looming cliff waits to terminate the story before it even gets started. Trying to create a character within that limit just adds to the stress. On the other side, it forces the writer to hone his or her skills. It is akin to writing poetry—every word is significant.
Both of your stories seemed to really resonate with where we are technology-wise now. They really push the reader into the future, but uncomfortably so. Was there a message in these pieces or was it simply for reading?
In my other life I was an engineer and educator so science and technology suffuse all of my stories. It constantly amazes me that some technology designed to benefit people more frequently becomes compromised, twisted and turned into something rotten and evil. We are at the cusp of a revolution in artificial intelligence. The basic idea behind it might be good, to solve problems beyond our own skill but there will be those who corrupt it for sinister purposes. The future, the unknown is both scary and uncomfortable. In everyday life, I am generally a happy, upbeat person. The dark soul comes out in my writing.
Gene, you’ve published with us before and all of your pieces have been wonderful. They usually contain scenes that stick with the reader. Are there any scenes or details from these pieces that really stuck with you as the writer?
In “The Edge” the concept of being at the very edge of the galaxy, where the stars are thin and the end looms like a great empty ocean, actually sent chills in my bones when I thought about it. If you’ve ever been out at sea, far from land, you can get a little sense of that feeling.