Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Interview - Kristine Ong Muslim

Philistine author, Kristine Ong Muslim, interviewed by Frank Burton

Kristine's flash fiction collection, Smaller Than Most can be read online or downloaded for free here.

What is the appeal of flash fiction for you?

For one, its brevity. I can finish a cup of coffee at the same time I finish reading one. Writing flash is not as tiresome as doing a full-length story. I can finish doing five in one sitting. Just one burst of inspiration is all it takes.

A lot of flash fiction pieces share more in common with poetry than with conventional short stories. Do you agree with this? And do you think this applies to your own flash fiction?

Yes. It is more like poetry. The work of Bruce Holland Rogers is a superb example. I even send out my flash pieces to masquerade as prose poems, like the Bogomil pieces at Mary Journal.

Who are your influences?

I read a lot, and my writing is heavily influenced by what I'm reading at the moment I write a certain piece. These days, I'm reading a lot by Matt Bell. My favorite bedtime staple is Bruce Boston, whose books I've been hoarding for a long time. The prose poems of Matthea Harvey, Jennifer Knox, Arlene Ang, and Tom Whalen. Genre writers like Kurt Newton and Michael Arnzen. And Bruce Holland Rogers who writes the best flash fiction I've read.

Smaller Than Most defies categorisation by bringing together a range of genres. Was this a conscious decision or was this something that emerged naturally through the writing process?

Smaller than Most was unplanned. I was assembling various book manuscripts and had to read and redo a lot of pieces I've written over the years looking for something common to link them together. The stories in Smaller than Most are the "outcasts." So I zipped them up into one little ebook that can be read for free.

Do you think these stories work better as part of a collection rather than as individual pieces?

The stories are too short so they do work well when lumped together as a collection. The added breadth of a chapbook length builds some sort of a relationship with the reader. In retrospect, I think the second chapter, "Little Horrors," had a common thread running through the stories. That should have been the entire manuscipt.

Do you have any plans to write any longer works of fiction - a novel, perhaps?

Yes, of course. Ultimately, I'll find a way to finish one. I've come up with a novel-length piece before that has become too complicated to finish, or maybe, I've lost interest entirely because the characters have all strayed from what they're supposed to be doing, and I ended up chopping them up as short stories.

How do you feel about online publishing?

I love it. Online submissions have changed my writing life. All I need is to pay for internet access to submit my work. My dayjob keeps me in front of a computer for eight hours. Most of it, I spend reading online journals and books. It is free. When it is not, I buy it off from Fictionwise or directly from the site to read it off my computer at home. I love podcasts, too. It is a big, big world out there. In my opinion, online publishing has given literature an extra pair of hands. It has made it accessible to everybody. Years ago, I used to spend an unreasonable amount of money on books and back issues of journals I like. I live in the Philippines, and the shipping costs can kill. The postage costs more than the book. That has changed a lot with the proliferation of ebook publishing. In the office, in between my working for real and my bouts of daydreaming, I read like crazy. I've read the
complete works of Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft online. I've gotten so used to reading onscreen. Most books and literary magazines I've ended up buying, I did so on print because the online counterpart made quite an impression on me.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! awesome tin... the lady in the nook is a superstar in the world of flash fiction :) im bedazzled