Tiffany White interview with Meg Tuite
In both your micro-flash pieces, “A Study in Plastics” and “Extinguished,” you take us to the end of innocence, trust and into betrayal in these relationships with such a compact, succinct use of words. Do you enjoy writing flash fiction more than other genres?
Yes, I do. I started as a poet, one whose poems ran on and on. I joined a forum and they told me, “Hey, you suck. And cut the poems down to a page.” And I thought I had real talent! So I wrote. A lot. Took a few classes and my poems shrunk. But then a good professor friend of mine said the only thing you could get with a poem is two dollars and a cheeseburger. So I took to fiction and flash seemed the natural next step.
I love the title, “A Study in Plastics.” The narrator realizes that she no longer needs her dolls, because she and the family make up for it with the silence and plastic smiles. Tell us more about this heartbreaking story and how you came up with the image of the dolls juxtaposing the family?
Well, we all have demons and this story comes from a special demon that lurks throughout all of my writing. Something I suffered when I was a teen and it is something I write about frequently to keep from going crazy. With that said, I feel a special connection to young girls who develop early. This particular girl has done just that. The juxtaposition of the dolls is not necessarily supposed to be with the family, more with her. I didn’t realize that it could be a symbol for the family until recently. So I guess that was an accident. *Smiles*
What book or books are you reading at this time?
Oh, so many. “The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel”- I cannot get enough of “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried”, Raymond Carver’s biography, “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, “Native Son”, By Richard Wright, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahnuik. I know what you’re thinking. You would be right.
Who were your greatest influences as a writer?
Raymond Carver, sometimes to my chagrin when I want distinct, flowing beauty. Amy Hempel when I want feeling. I think Meg Pokrass, believe it or not, is one of the best flash fiction writers on the scene today. Ralph Ellison and Neil Gaiman when those beautiful sentences escape me.
How is the young adult novel coming along?
Because the novel is a fictionalized account of real events I take breaks often. So I’m only at 14,000 words. It is not going to be a happy story, or an overtly sad one so taking long breaks helps me cope with what I have to put on the page. It is very hard to do, to look back over the trials of one’s life and speak on it so others can read it. I hope when it is finished and published people can get something from it. If not, then it is out there. I can be finished with it.