Flash fiction often captures particularly moments in time. Are there moments you find yourself returning to for inspiration?
No, not really. While I think flash fiction has a somewhat hybrid role – somewhere between poetry and the longer short story – I’m still very much an “ideas” writer; I still think every story, even those that are just a few hundred words, should have a point. If I finish a flash piece and think, “Well what was the point of that?” I feel like I’ve wasted my time both as a reader and a writer so I tend to write ideas that are driven by “What if?” ideas rather than emotional snapshots in time.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
In terms of flash pieces, I’m rather fond of “The Pub Fight” (https://bizarrocentral.com/2017/06/23/flash-fiction-friday-the-pub-fight/ ) and “The Chaotic Butterfly” (https://bizarrocentral.com/2017/11/03/flash-fiction-friday-the-chaotic-butterfly/ ) – they seem to sum up my voice as a writer. There are also a couple of other stories published by Bizarro Central, if anyone cares to dig them out. In terms of longer stories, I also have a lot of time for “BobandJane” (http://www.lit-net.org/p_shst1.htm ) which was the opener of my first collection, Ugly Stories for Beautiful People and which was the first story I ever performed live at a spoken word event.
What do you find to be the hardest about consolidating and writing stories as flash fiction?
Nothing, really! I’m not one of those people who has attended a Master’s course in fiction writing or anything and so is always mindful of what “flash fiction” is or what separates a “flash story” from a “short-short” or a “short story.” I’ve always just written stories and they have been as long as they have needed to be, whether that be 1500 words or 20,000! Sometimes I may have issues cutting a story for a desired market (say, from 900 words to 500), but I rarely set out to specifically write flash fiction. I just know I have a story to tell and that it will probably be on the shorter side. However long it may be depends entirely on how long it is once I’m finished.
How would you have handled this man? Would you have behaved the same as the protagonist?
Sadly, I think I would have acted exactly the same as the protagonist – no matter how much I wanted to be alone, once I started getting bothered by someone, I would have interacted with them out of politeness but I would have been fairly monosyllabic to try and show them how annoyed I was by having to do so. Unfortunately, I know from experience that this is what I would have done as I am like a magnet for what British comedian Jasper Carrott called “The Bus Weirdo;” if there is any oddball out there who wants to talk to someone, they will make a bee-line straight for me.
It’s sad that this person had to buy a chip to be funny to others. Was there a message behind this or was it just a good read?
There was something of a deeper message behind it. The idea came when I was just thinking about how much people do for the sole purpose of being attractive to prospective sexual partners – working out in the gym, spending thousands on clothes and flash cars, dedicating their whole lives to occupations they hate just so they can have full wallets to impress those they want to sleep with….. Even having slices of flesh cut and sliced and sucked away in an attempt to improve how they look. The thought of cosmetic surgery lead me to wondering what people would do, if they could, to improve their personalities? What would they do to become witty, urbane, to effortlessly hold court at every social occasion? This then lead me to think about what would happen if such procedures – as is the case with many plastic surgery procedures – unfortunately, went wrong……
You can read James Burr’s flash fiction piece, “Humour Chip tm” in Issue Six of The Ginger Collect.