Q and A with Tommy Dean, Judge, 21st Award

Thank you very much to US based writer, editor and teacher, Tommy Dean, for agreeing to judge our 21st flash fiction award, which opens today, Tuesday March 1st and closes Sunday, June 5th 2022. In the interview below, after Tommy’s bio, he tells us more about his latest books and projects and what sort of flash fictions he loves. Tommy is also running some free teaching sessions when his new collection, Hollows is released in April. So check out the links for that at the end of this email.

Tommy Dean is the author of two flash fiction chapbooks Special Like the People on TV (Redbird Chapbooks, 2014) and Covenants (ELJ Editions, 2021). Hollows, A collection of flash fiction is forthcoming from Alternating Current Press. He lives in Indiana where he currently is the Editor at Fractured Lit and Uncharted Magazine. A graduate of the Queens University of Charlotte MFA program, he is currently working on a novel. A recipient of the 2019 Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction, his writing can be found in Best Microfiction 2019 and 2020, Best Small Fiction 2019, Monkeybicycle, and the Atticus Review. He taught writing workshops for the Gotham Writers Workshop, the Barrelhouse Conersations and Connections conference, and The Writers Workshop. Find him at tommydeanwriter.com on Twitter @TommyDeanWriter.

Q and A

  • Your chapbook Covenants came out with ElJ Editions in 2021 and Hollows, another flash fiction collection, is forthcoming from Alternating Current Press.
    Can you tell us more about these collections. Do they have different themes? Where can we buy them?
    Covenants is a chapbook with 14 dystopian flash fiction pieces. I love the chapbook size for when stories demand close attention and can focus on darker, sadder themes. The reader can sink into the firmament of the book and finish reading it in a few hours, and hopefully feel something that might linger. https://elj-editions.com/covenants/

    Hollows focuses on the theme of finding those moments where characters must make choices, choices that usually bring them out of their solitary existences and must contend or join the world around them. In 45 flash and micro stories, I try to shine the light on the dark spaces of these characters’ lives and hopefully leave the reader satisfied with meeting character’s who are scrapping to keep themselves alive and witnessing lives possibilities.

    • You are senior editor for Fractured Lit magazine and also for Uncharted Magazine. We’d love to hear about both magazines and what you are looking for in each?
    • Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the litmags that I edit! Uncharted Magazine publishes genre fiction short stories from 1,001-5,000 words. We want thrilling stories that we can’t stop reading! All regular submissions are always open, always free and we pay $200 for the stories we publish! We run several contests per year with a standard fee of $20 and an above-standard prize of $3000 for the winner of each contest.

      Fractured Lit publishes flash and micro fiction with a maximum word count of 1,000 words. We also publish micro series and reprints. We want stories that linger long past the flash! We’re looking for flash and micro that tells a unique and specific story that makes us feel something! All regular submissions are always open, always free and we pay $50 for micros and $75 for flash. We run several contests per year with a standard fee of $20 and an above-standard prize of $3000 for the winner of each contest.

    • You must constantly read a great deal of short fiction. What makes a stand out piece for you?
      For both magazines, I love stories that are character-centered. I love stories that start with an idea of the conflict, point of view, and setting, and keep the reader interested and reading! For Uncharted, we love that special mix of genre and character, language and world-building. Stories that thrill us, quicken our breathing! Surprise us! For Fractured Lit, we love flash that feels like a complete story with characters who are making choices, taking action, and reacting to the conflict at the heart of the story! We love sentences that hum and pacing that allows for a velocity of feeling!
    • We’re delighted you are writing a craft guide book on writing the 100 word story to be published by our short short fiction press, Ad Hoc Fiction, in 2023. What interests you about stories of this length?
      I’m so excited about this project! I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement and support! I absolutely love the challenge of writing a story with as few words as possible! The 100 word story offers the unique challenge of creating, setting, characterization, conflict and plot in a postage size space! It’s a lot of fun to create these story wonders! I love when a writer can make me feel something, see something new in a character in a third of a page! The writer must constantly question each word, each craft move or element, and figure out a way to create a satisfying ending! Limitations often spur creativity, and I love this challenge!
    • As well as writing and editing, you also teach courses on many aspects of flash fiction. Have you any upcoming online or face to face courses?
      I absolutely love teaching writing and writing with other writers. In order to celebrate the release of Hollows on 3/14/2022, I’m holding 2 free generative writing sessions on zoom using a few of my own stories as prompts! Sign up for either session here https://t.co/m8UVTjnr0m I’m also teaching a Community Craft class on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at 7pm EST on zoom. Topic is TBA, but it only costs $5 per person!
    • Finally a top tip for a writing wanting to enter our next award for stories of up to 300 words?
      I love specific and unique characters who are revealed by the pressure the conflict puts on them to act and react on the stage of the story! This is so difficult to do in such a small space, but when it’s done well, it creates stories of stunning resonance!
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