Guy Hogan was born and raised in the Hill District, the neighborhood that overlooks downtown Pittsburgh. His book of flash fiction is titled Compressionism: The Pittsburgh Stories. His work has appeared in The Front, Flash Flooding, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Flash Forward, Ellipsis and other publications. He received his MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. Guy can be reached at AuthorsDen.com.
What about flash fiction makes it your genre of choice?
Because flash fiction is so short, I feel that I have more control over it than I would have over say a novel or a regular-length short story. This does not mean I can be lazy. It just means that I don’t have to focus for as long. I’m easily distracted.
Flash is about focus. How do you weed out the characters and how do you select the scenes?
Flash is definitely about focus, total focus. How I select my characters and my scenes is sort of a mystery. It’s the magic of creative writing. An idea will come to me and from experience I pretty much know whether or not I can work it into a story. The characters and the scenes choose me. But my experience and knowledge of writing will let me know if the characters and the scenes are organic to the story. One has to add to the other. I choose characters and scenes based on the life I have lived. I could not write about cowboys because I don’t know about cowboys. I was a college student for a long time. So, I write about college students and that entire scene.
You talk about compressionism and it is the title of your book Compressionism: the Pittsburgh Stories. Please explain your view on compression.
Compression is the use of words to paint a moving picture that tells a story. The idea is to create cinema on the page. This allows the reader to become part of the creative process. The imagination of the reader will provide the meaning of what the words imply. This is why there is so little exposition in Compressionism. If I do my job, the reader will supply the exposition from my visual suggestions.
Is the city of Pittsburgh essential to your flash? Would you still write flash about Pittsburgh if you lived in say, Mt Gretna, PA?
I write about what I know. I know Pittsburgh. And I know about the Vietnam War.
Does flash need a twist-ending to be successful?
I don’t like twist endings. I leave twist endings to fans of O’Henry. There are three basic endings: the epiphany (realization), the change in direction and summation that makes what has happened more understandable. At least that is my understanding of the resolution in a flash fiction story. The ending must be honest which means it must be absolutely organic. This is also a part of Compressionism.
Who is your favorite author, and favorite flash author?
Hemingway is my favorite author. Compressionism is based on his very visual style: but it was Raymond Carver who showed me just how minimal a story could be and still be a story: the setup, the buildup and the resolution.
FF.Net Author’s Note
Lorna Brown Gordon is a poet living and working in the Philadelphia area. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently trying to master narrative fiction.