Smoking With Kate Hill Cantrill

Read the Story March 15, 2008

“You know me, Man. I know you know me.” This is such a perfect ending. It completes the circle of action. Did the story naturally end up here?

Yes. If the final line of a flash fiction story does not naturally reveal itself to me while I am writing the first draft, then I pretty much decide that I’m forcing the story and it’s probably never going to come together, no matter how many times I revise it.

The father lives in a stone house. Why is this detail important?

The most apparent reason to me is that it’s needed rhythmically. “Get out, get out, of my cedar-shake paneled house!” just doesn’t cut it. It does make me laugh, though.

Stone, besides being a formidable material, doesn’t place the story in any particular time period. As well it doesn’t place it definitively in any type of area, such as Suburbia. “Get Out, get out, of my vinyl sided house” might do just that.

Sound is often underutilized in fiction. Not so here. This story clicks and clacks and thuds and creaks and slams and… Great job! What component of fiction would you like to see used more often?

A sense of play. What I mean by that is the sort of word play that can produce beautifully serious and important works, but do it with a respectful awareness that fiction is art—not life—it’s a made-thing, part of the created world, and words are the medium. I’m not so interested in being lulled into thinking I’m reading something real; I’m more interested in reading art. I’ve also found that allowing for a sense of play in fiction can be the most moving way to deal with difficult issues.

What do you teach at the Sackett Street Workshops?

I teach Intermediate Fiction and The Novel, and as we speak I’m drafting a course description for a Flash Fiction Workshop.

Congratulations on placing in the Kathy Fish Fellowship contest! Will you share a bit about your experience in applying for the fellowship? Preparing the goal statement, selecting the stories, the wait, etc.?

Thank-you! The styles of my stories vary greatly, so I tried to pull together a diverse group of them in an effort to represent my multiple personalities as a writer. To be honest, what I struggled over the most was the fact that the stories had to be sent in the body of the email and I was very concerned that my italics and em dashes would be messed up! I go bananas over that sort of thing. Bananas!

About the Author:

Kate Hill Cantrill's writing has appeared in numerous literary publications, including StoryQuarterly, Salt Hill, Mississippi Review, Blackbird, The Believer, Quick Fiction, 3rd Bed, Diagram, and others. Her flash fiction chapbook, Hello Friends and Neighbors, was recently awarded a finalist position in the Diagram/New Michigan Press Contest and a semi-finalist position in the Rosemetal Press Contest. She lives in Brooklyn where she is writing a novel and teaching for the Sackett Street Workshops. She can be reached at K_hcantrill@hotmail.com.