Flash Fiction: for writers, readers, editors, publishers, & fans

Thursday

Flash Interview: Christopher Brookmyre

  

Brookmyre.jpgChristopher Brookmyre was born
in Glasgow in 1968 and educated at the University of Glasgow, where he earned
an MA in English and Theatre. He worked as a sub-editor in London and Edinburgh
prior to the publication of his first novel, Quite Ugly One Morning, which won the First Blood Award in 1996 for
the best first crime novel of the year. His Jack Parlabane series saw him
become the first writer to win two Sherlock awards, and his 2006 novel All Fun And Games Until Somebody Loses An
Eye
won him the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Writing. In
2005 he was named the University of Glasgow's Young Alumnus of the Year and in
2007 he won the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award for writing. As well as
his Jack Parlabane series, he has enjoyed considerable acclaim for his
Angelique de Xavia novels ands more recently his Jasmine Sharp trilogy.

 

1.    
In researching you, I found that
you have published quite a few novels, but I couldn't find a mention of this
flash fiction piece, or any information on whether or not you write flash
fiction. So, what made you want to write a flash fiction piece?

The
idea came to me one day when I was waiting in for a gas engineer to repair my
boiler. I do a lot of book festival events, and it's always good to end the
show on a light note. The final question from the audience can be something
really mundane, like "Do you write longhand", so I like to have a
short piece to read as the last word. I realised this would make an ideal
punchy short story for such occasions.

 

2.    
What made you want to shoot for
225 words specifically or did that part come about later?

I
think the first version was probably longer than that, but I was asked to
contribute to a Flash Fiction anthology, and 225 words was the stipulated
length. (The anthology was titled "The Flash," edited by Peter Wild
and published by Social Disease in 2007.)

 

3.    
What was your biggest challenge
when approaching this piece, or were there any unique challenges about flash
fiction that you faced?

I very
seldom write short stories, preferring the grander canvas of novels, but the
restrictions of brevity worked in my favour in this case. It's all about
conveying an atmosphere and setting up for what comics call a "pull back
and reveal."

 

4.    
I thought it was brilliant to
focus on a common and mundane experience (utility workers coming to a house).
What was your inspiration to write about something that's supposedly so
mundane? What do you think it adds to the story?

As
above, inspiration can come from obvious sources. I was thinking about how gas
engineers and postmen can sometimes be ninja-like in their ability to show up
during the brief window when you finally leave the house for five minutes, and
I extrapolated the idea from there.

 

5.    
I really liked the way the
characters worked in the story. They were there but were shrouded in mystery;
they were heard but not seen. Why did you leave out the characterization? Was
it simply part of keeping the word count down, or does it serve some other
purpose?

I
had to make the narrator seem clinical and cold, leaving out all trace of
individuality, in order to add a sense of menace. It's funnier that way.

 

6.    
Finally, is there anything else
you want readers to know about or take away from this piece?

No. I've
already written considerably more words about it here than actually comprise
the story.

Author's Note

Costanzo.jpgMichael Costanzo is currently
working toward an MFA in Creative Writing at Rosemont College. He holds a
bachelors degree in History with a minor in Psychology from Cabrini College
where he published his Historiography research paper
Emerging Art Trends: Video Games as Art in the 2012 Journal of
Undergraduate Research. Michael is also the co-creator and writer for the
entertainment/humor website "The Crispy Noodle" and the co-host of The Crispy
Noodle Podcast. In his off time, he enjoys playing video games, yelling at the
Philadelphia Eagles, being Italian, and writing (of course).

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