Saturday 11 May 2013

Q & A with Larry Brown


by Larry Brown

Quirky. Poignant. Includes one Cajun polka band.

18 flash fiction stories.

From the author of the story collection Talk (Oberon Press)

Add Satellite to your Goodreads shelf!

Look for Satellite in Read It & Reap on June 18!

Q & A with Larry Brown
Q: Tell us about Satellite.
A: Satellite is a collection of eighteen flash fiction stories, the stories ranging between 150 and 750 words. And the only real connection—as far as I see it anyways—between the stories is the short, short length. I never think about themes. There may be themes in there, reoccurring ones that pop up in the margins or lurk beneath the verbs, or wherever themes hang out in my stories, but I’ll leave that detective work to others.

Q. How would you describe your writing style?
A: The stories are told in a variety of styles. The title story, for example is kind of an off-beat one with prescription slippers and a Cajun polka band, while the story “Apartment” is pretty straightforward, a man remembering happier times with his-then girlfriend. Humour is sprinkled throughout the collection, a subtle brand of humour. Quirky too.

In the anthology Coming Attractions 06 (Oberon Press) the editor Mark Jarman described my writing as tough and jittery. I like that. A story must have tension and I like to think that my style itself adds some.

Q: What about flash fiction appeals to you?
A: I enjoy the challenge of flash fiction, of trying to say a lot but doing it with very few words. Very, very few. And trying to make each story resonate, make it feel like there’s more there, something below the surface (as in Hemingway’s iceberg theory).

Another reason for writing flash fiction is a medical one. I’ve had Parkinson’s (or, at least, the noticeable symptoms) for sixteen years, since I was 39. From the time I began writing seriously, I composed with pen and paper, which felt “right” and provided what seemed to be a natural flow to creativity. (Brain to hand to pen to page.) Parkinson’s slowly took away my ability to write with my right hand. I taught myself to write with my left, which gave me a few more years of pen and paper. Then the left hand went. And I had to start composing on the typewriter, which for a long time felt like a barrier to composing. I’d start…start a second time…a third…a tenth time and so on. Eventually, I hit on the flash fiction approach. And composing has taken a few steps toward feeling natural again.
Q. Why do you still use a typewriter?
A: I use a gun-metal gray Olivetti-Underwood typewriter I bought used in 1981. It’s miles more forgiving than a computer keyboard. Every l8 months you buy a $4 ribbon and that’s it, the typewriter never a threat to crash or block the path to your work. And if my hand jumps on the keyboard, no strange pop-ups appear.

Q: Do you believe writing can be taught?
A: I teach writing workshops and two points I end up repeating (and repeating) are the need for tension and details, details, details. Can writing be taught? I think it can help make things a bit more clear, and if a person works and works at writing (obsession is a positive trait in this line of work) then he or she is headed in the right direction. For me, the summer workshops at the University of Iowa with Fritz McDonald were an enormous help.

Q: What book are you reading now?
A: At the moment I’m reading This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz and The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell. I read a lot of short stories. And reread several. Are These Actual Miles? by Raymond Carver, Rock Springs by Richard Ford, Indian Camp by Hemingway, The Dead by Joyce, to name a few. Always something different catches my attention.
About the Author: 
Larry Brown lives in Brantford, Ontario. He is the author of two story collections, Satellite ( and Talk (

He teaches short story workshops throughout southwestern Ontario.

Find Larry Brown on Facebook:

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