Smoke & Mirrors: An Interview with Maddy Raskulinecz

by Tim Fitts Read the Story December 17, 2018

Flash fiction is such a condensed form; are you drawn to other forms of fiction that you write?

I write longer fiction, too, but I’ve always really enjoyed flash. And I think the compression of flash helps me to form good habits for longer work: trying to say things in crisp, taut ways. This story was unusually short for me—most of the flash fiction I’ve written is between 500 and 1,000 words long. This one I wanted to try to keep to a single page.

Who are some of your favorite flash fiction authors?

I like Deb Olin Unferth and Amelia Gray a lot. One of my recent favorite books is Joy Williams book of flash fiction from a couple years ago, Ninety-Nine Stories of God. And I always have Lydia Davis’ collected stories nearby.

Are there elements from real life that inspire your fiction?

I think the element from real life that inspires my fiction the most is anxiety. I’ll often create a fictional situation designed to put pressure on or explore a set of anxieties that have been worrying me. When something is really preoccupying me, every detail and anecdote I see or hear starts to seem to be “about” it. So some theme will begin to gobble up all the details from life that present themselves, and a lot of texture from real life will end up in a story.

Did you study writing in college, or do you come to fiction from another field of study?

I did a minor in creative writing in college, and later went on to get an MFA. Flash fiction was very celebrated in the creative writing department at my college, UNC-Chapel Hill. They ran a flash contest for students called the Mini-Max, named after Max Steele, the former director of the program and a big proponent of the short-short. So my early exposure to creative writing academia was very pro flash.

Are you putting together a collection of flash fiction?

I’m not working towards a collection of flash fiction in any organized way. I often find myself turning to flash when something longer is frustrating me, or to work out some small idea that doesn’t fit with anything else, or to play with style elements that would get tiresome if sustained for a long time. For now I’m happy to let shorter stories happen on a more spontaneous basis and see what organizing principles reveal themselves.

About the Author:

Maddy Raskulinecz lives in San Francisco, CA. Her fiction has appeared in Zyzzyva, Guernica, 3:AM, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere, and has been included in Wigleaf's Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions.

About the Interviewer:

Tim Fitts works and lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. He serves on the editorial staff of Painted Bride Quarterly and is a member of the Liberal Arts Department at the Curtis Institute of Music. His fiction and photography have been published by journals such as The Gettysburg Review, Granta (online), Day One, the New England Review, Shenandoah, among others. His collection of short stories, Hypothermia, was published in 2017 by MadHat Press.