Smoking with Kathy Fish

Read the Story June 15, 2004

I love the characters in this story. Ever work in a restaurant yourself?

Yes. I waited tables for years. The tips funded my college education. I actually had to wear the polyester peasant blouse and wraparound skirt described in the story. When I finally got a “real” job I tried to burn the thing, but it only melted. The two waitresses are composites of women I worked with over the years and we had a “regular” who had Tourette’s syndrome. I have always wanted to include him in a story.

How long have you been writing? Has there ever been anything that stopped you for a while?

Since I was a kid. I wrote plays in the fifth grade and my best friend cast and directed them to show to the class during school time. The plays usually involved a lot of violence and melodrama and always ended in some innocent person’s gruesome death. The kids ate it up! That was the last time being a writer afforded me any measure of popularity.

Nothing ever stops me from writing. It seems like the more life tries to intrude upon it, the more stubbornly I pursue it.

What do you think of Flash versus other literary forms?

I love writing flash fiction! Flash relies much more heavily on subtext than other forms. It takes a hell of a lot of confidence as a writer to leave stuff out and trust the reader to make the connections. I love the challenge of creating a world of story in a very small space.

Who inspires you?

All my writer friends who are infinitely more talented than I am. I feel incredibly rich in this regard. And of course, my beautiful family.

If you could force everyone you love to read one thing, what would it be?

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho.

About the Author:

Kathy Fish teaches for the Mile High MFA at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. She has published four collections of short fiction: a chapbook in the Rose Metal Press collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (2008); Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011); Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012); and Rift, co-authored with Robert Vaughan (Unknown Press, 2015). Three of her stories have been Best Small Fictions winners, most recently “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild,” chosen by Aimee Bender. Additionally, two of Fish’s stories will be featured in the upcoming W.W. Norton anthology, New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.