Six Questions with 2014 NANO Prize Judge Kim Chinquee

Sophie Rosenblum: We’re delighted to have you judging our contest this year. What are you reading these days? Is there anyone on your radar our readers should look out for?

Kim Chinquee: Thank you. I’m currently reading Lydia Davis’s new book CAN’T AND WON’T. I’ve read all of her books! Huge fan. I’m also reading Brandon Hobson’s DEEP ELLUM, which is pretty great and chilling.

SR: With over 200 pieces of flash fiction published, you’re often referred to as the Queen of Flash. What advice do you have for the writers out there who have yet to place their first story?

KC: Make every word count.

SR: You’ve said you don’t think backstory is as important in flash fiction. What do you think is vital for this form? What are your criteria for knowing when a story is complete and ready?

KC: The piece needs to sing: with language, images, details. Like cooking, adding ingredients until the dish is to your taste. I struggle with knowing whether a story is just right. Sometimes I know there is a missing ingredient, but I don’t know what it is yet.

SR: Do you use writing prompts to get started? If so, what are some that you might recommend?

KC: I use daily word prompts. In my writing group, Hot Pants, my fellow members and I take turns posting five random prompt words. We’ve been doing that for years, since around 2002. I also sometimes use exercises from Brian Kiteley’s 3AM EPIPHANY. I use prompts in the classroom, as well. I don’t believe in writer’s block. Because there are always exercises!

SR: I’ve heard that you’re an avid runner. Do you think running pairs well with flash fiction, or can the rest of us just watch you finish marathons from the comfort of our couch?

KC: I’m not sure how/if running and flash coincide but running and writing are alike to me in ways that they are personal and teach me lessons, and are very much a part of who I am.

SR: What can we look forward to from Kim Chinquee?

KC: I have two longer pieces in the recent issues of NOON and PLOUGHSHARES.. I’m working on a novel based on my experiences at last year’s Boston Marathon, which I hope to eventually publish.