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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Smoking With Kim Chinquee

(Read the Story) August 15, 2004

Kim Chinquee

Art by Marty D. Ison

Do most of your stories begin with the first sentence or with an image that you bring to the story?

Most of my stories are inspired by an image, although sometimes that image comes later, as the story is formed. I guess it depends on the length of the story, or the kind of story I’m writing. For me, rarely does a story actually “begin” with the first sentence. “Attic” was inspired by an image, as attic was one of the prompt words. I imagined being in my grandmother’s attic, and what it might contain.

What do you want from a story, when you read and when you write?

I want to feel compassion for the characters. I want to cry with them and laugh with them, and for them. I want to experience their joy and their pain.

You also teach creative writing. What are three things you always tell your students? Do they listen?

Write with heart.

Look at your story from every characters’ perspective. Know your characters. Are you being honest and objective and fair to each character?

Revise.

I think they listen. I hope so.

What is your favorite, and least favorite, part of the whole writing process?

My favorite part is learning. Learning more about myself and about other people, and trying to understand, learning and trying to be as honest as possible.

My least favorite part is the pain involved in doing that.

About the Author

Kim Chinquee grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, served in the medical field in the Air Force, and is often referred to as the “queen” of flash fiction. She’s published hundreds of pieces of fiction and nonfiction in journals and magazines including The Nation, Ploughshares, NOON, Storyquarterly, Denver Quarterly, Fiction, Story, Notre Dame Review, Conjunctions, and others. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes and a Henfield Prize. She is Senior Editor of New World Writing, co-director of Buffalo State’s Writing Major, and serves as the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Northeast Regional Council Chair. She can be reached at kimchinquee at gmail dot com.

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.

This interview appeared in Issue Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Five
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From May 30 to August 28 2022, SmokeLong is going to host a superworkshop. We want to spend the summer with you, the flash community. Our workshops take place on a devoted website where you can create a profile, interact with the flash community, and take part in group discussions on craft, but A SmokeLong Summer will be much more.