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Interview with Myna Chang, First Place Winner of Summer 2022 Flash Fiction Contest


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Myna Chang’s chapbook, The Potential of Radio and Rain, will be published by CutBank Books in 2023. Her writing has been selected for Flash Fiction America (W.W. Norton), Best Small Fictions, and CRAFT, among others. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Writings Award in Flash Fiction. She hosts the Electric Sheep speculative fiction reading series. Find her at MynaChang.com or @MynaChang.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Summer 2022 Flash Fiction competition! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Special Recipe: Book Club Dip?” It reminds me of a hermit crab essay, but it’s fictional.

Myna: This story started in a generative hermit crab flash workshop offered by Cheryl Pappas. We talked about a variety of forms, ranging from simple lists to detailed product reviews and more. The recipe format appealed to me, probably because I enjoy reading about all the fancy foods I’ll never prepare myself. Also, I kept thinking of a silly red car parked in front of a neighbor’s house. The two ideas combined and ballooned from there.

WOW:  It's a fun and clever piece, and I love the last italicized line. Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?

Myna: When I first started writing flash, I found 500 words to be my favorite length. The constraint forced me to make strategic choices in both the theme and specific words. After a few years of practice, I’m now flirting with 200-250 words. Can I grab a reader’s attention and present a full character arc? Can I leave them with a memorable image, a feeling of resonance? This is tough, but it’s extremely satisfying when it works. After writing flash and micro, short story writing feels almost wasteful!

WOW: What are the most common mistakes made by new writers when writing flash fiction and what advice would you offer to help overcome them?

Myna: I think it helps to look at flash as a unique type of writing. Flash isn’t simply a shorter version of a short story, it’s a completely different animal. You have to capture the reader immediately and genuinely engage with them. What does the reader bring to the story, and how will their own experiences color what they read? Flash stories often invite the reader to step into the narrative, in a sort of collaborative space, making the unsaid elements take on greater importance. A good way to see this is to read your favorite flash journals in depth. Review each story a couple of times to find the layers of meaning, study the word choices, and think about what the author doesn’t explicitly say.

WOW:  Your debut chapbook, The Potential of Radio and Rain, will be released next year. What you tell us about this project, and the process of completing it?

Myna: The Potential of Radio and Rain is a collection of 23 loosely-linked micro and flash pieces, rooted in the shortgrass prairie region of the US. Once I realized I had almost enough stories set in this landscape, I wrote a few more to fill in the gaps. Then I spent a ridiculous amount of time rearranging the pieces to best bring out the connections among them. The manuscript won CutBank’s 2022 Chapbook Contest. We’re now in the process of choosing cover art, which is very fun! We expect it to be available sometime in the first quarter of 2023.

WOW: Congratulations on your manuscript's win and the upcoming release! What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Myna: “Go ahead and end that sentence with a preposition if you want to!” — Great advice from friend and phenomenal writer Marcy Dilworth.

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For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.

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