Smoking With Kay Sexton

Read the Story December 15, 2003

What draws you to flash fiction?

Lunacy and morbid masochism! Seriously, just as the short story defines all the skills a writer has – or lacks – flash fiction intensifies the strengths and magnifies the weaknesses in a story; when you work that hard in such a small space you end up with a real appreciation for your craft.

What authors inspire you? What books have been inspirations to you?

Blimey, that’s hard to condense – harder than it is to write flash! Henry James and Charles Dickens, George Eliot and all the Brontes are my bedrock – I grew up reading all these. Timothy Mo is an all time favourite and a big sprawling writer whose novels span the globe but tell of little people. Rafi Zabor’s The Bear Comes Home is a book that I am constantly re-reading since I discovered it a year ago. Vikram Seth is a delight, not just because he’s a great writer but because he’s a great humanist and that comes through his work beautifully. Mary Renault is a much underrated and beautiful stylist – she taught me a great deal about how good writing comes from intense research. Lindsay Davis writes wonderful novels about a Roman detective called Falco; her books bring me so much pleasure that I carry one with me whenever I stay away from home. And I also read a lot of science fiction!

From the tone of your story, you seem to have a “dark side”. What draws you to the dark and do you ever write any lighter pieces? What are your favorite themes?

This story is dark, but I suspect every mother has – at least once – had this split second thought. I do write lighter things, very silly things in fact and one such, Urban Dance, will be published at Yankee Pot Roast early in the new year. It describes some new dance forms including the Subway Tango, the Feng Sway (which is elegant and clears office clutter) and the Bossa Nova, which is the dance you do to ingratiate yourself with a newly appointed manager! I write a lot about people who live their lives normally until some epiphany or insight sets them at right angles to reality, just as happens in this story.

I have to ask, weren’t Legos the coolest toys ever?

Yup. My eleven year old son makes Lego animations; titchy films set in Legoland – and no, he’s nothing like the boy in my story. The only bad thing about Legos is treading on them barefoot – they hurt!

You have been widely published, have any favorite pieces? Here is the place to brag.

I’m never shy about my writing so my favourite pieces on the web at present are: Mother Moment and Sheep, she says.

If you couldn’t write and couldn’t attend to your fig tree, what would you do?

I’d like to do nothing, but I’m a good cook, so I’d probably end up cooking somewhere. My life’s ambition is to be a librarian, but they told me at school not to be so ambitious, so I became a glamour model instead. Yes, really. That was a long time ago though…

About the Author:

Kay Sexton has an overdeveloped work ethic and a fig tree in her garden. She finds it hard to reconcile the two. Her short-short story "Domestic Violence" was runner-up in the Guardian fiction contest judged by Dave Eggers, "Tats" earned an honourable mention in the Desdemona’s Erotic Fiction contest, Sarah Hall (The Electric Michelangelo) has chosen "Acorns and Conkers" as the runner-up in the ESSP short story contest and Kay’s work appeared in seven anthologies in 2004. Her website www.charybdis.freeserve.co.uk gives details of her current and forthcoming publications. The fig tree is also flourishing.

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.