Interview with Al Kratz
Bath Flash Prize Winner

Al Kratz with beer

Al tells us how his second prize-winning story was sparked off by the title, which came into his head on the way to work. This great ten-worder, You have so many more choices than fight or flight posed questions about human existence and allowed Al to write in the second-person, a voice he wouldn't normally use. We think he's definitely created a 'kick-ass' flash fiction.

  • Can you tell us the story behind your winning/commended piece – was it prompted by a word, a memory, a scene, a wish to write in a new way?

The title popped into my head during a commute to work. I’ve always loved the concept of fight or flight. The extremity of it in wildlife is beautiful. They get in these brutal situations, and do the best they can. Sometimes they win heroically; sometimes they lose tragically. Then, for humans, we don’t have to do that as much. We have other choices we can make, but is that always a good thing? So the title came to me, and that pointed me to second-person voice, something I usually don’t like.

  • What do you particularly like about the very short form? Have you been writing in this genre for long?

I love precision. The self-consciously quick, bold strike. I have played guitar, but never was able to play a kick-ass solo. Not the kind playing in my head for sure. With flash fiction, sometimes I can get closer to that. I have accidentally been writing short most of my life, but I used to write stories only when ideas struck hard, so I could go years without writing much. In 2012, I had some different lifestyle changes with kids, careers, and relationships so I decided to give more time to reading and writing. I was thrilled to discover flash was a thing so many people like you at the Bath Flash Fiction Award, Smokelong, or Rose Metal Press were so dedicated to.

  • Which short story writers have inspired you and what is it about their writing that appeals to you?

Love the minimalism of Hemingway, but reading Raymond Carver was the first time I actively realized how much story can be in what isn’t written. Amy Hempel for showing that stories don’t always have be done a certain way. It’s ok to do it the way you want to. Kathy Fish for being the master of flash that she is and for teaching it incredibly well too.

  • When and where do you do your writing?

I can be a bit obsessive. When I’m working on something, I have to take a lot of notes on my iPhone, so I don’t lose ideas. I can write anywhere on my laptop. I like listening to music when I write.

  • What are your current writing projects? Have you further writing ambitions?

I have a lot of projects I want to do. I’m in the fourth year of a “Do It Yourself” MFA approach. To me, the most important things for that are reading, learning, and trying to make my content better. The projects I probably have closer to complete are flash chapbooks or collections. I’ve been working a lot lately with connected flash. I love the contradiction of compression working even better by expanding it.

  • We'd love to know your best tips for writing flash fiction.

Read a ton of it to learn what you think works and what doesn’t work for others. Find the intangible things that make stories flash in essence rather than just in length.

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