Julie Weinstein's new book, Flashes From the Other World is a collection of very short fiction - Flash Fiction. Her writing is clear, concise and colorful. Check out her story Camp Ghosts at julieweinstein.com. Her book is filled with perfect stories for moments when you want read but you don't have a lot of time: doctor's offices, plane rides, or just evenings when the dinner is cooking and you're tired of watching the news. Here's an interview Julie did. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did when I read this.
Why should I read your book?
If you like magic realism, short stories collections, and characters that are quirky, offbeat and full of unusual surprises, then you’ll love Flashes from the Other World (All Things That Matter Press, Fall 2010).
The story collection is in the magic realism vein. I think of it as reality that is slightly bent as opposed to science fiction, which is completely bent. Stories of this nature have a subtle and bewitching way of blending the out of the ordinary with everyday life. In my writing, it's often a surreal landscape where the question of what is a dream and what is reality blur. Along those lines, it can be a place where the intangible becomes tangible, whether it's a ghost or a flower, vegetable or a grain of sand talking.
My story collection, Flashes from the Other World is packaged under the loose umbrella of paranormal, relationships and the surreal. There’s no telling which character in this collection you’ll identify the most with whether it’s those in search of love, or others questioning reality, or all the ghosts that stop by for a spell dispensing mischief and mayhem, or the talking animals including one that befriends Elvis, or the lovers that take what they need of each other and from other people’s weddings, or the wise snail finding its true color or a whipped can of cream espousing theories on the way the universe works. And along the way you will find delightful mini-trips that will touch your heart, even if they tug at your funny bone first.
What do you like about writing?
I love the play of words, the language, the chance to meet and know new characters, the enticement, the seduction of inspiration, the playful expression of creative energy, the chance to see whole new worlds unfold and all the surprising characters and stories that emerge along the way.
How do you reach your muse?
The muse is everywhere whether it’s words I hear at a coffee shop like “the Gorillas, “they weren’t photographed” or a key phrase heard at a party, “they might have trans organs,” or all the random words heard while I run on the beach, like “what’s that washing ashore it looks like split pea soup?” Or all the unusual things I see like a manikin’s body without the head being carried at the center of a shopping mall, or a pair of men’s jockeys left by a car tire, or the odd configurations of words that suddenly amuse or entertain me, like dichotomize or flummery, making me realize that I should use them in a story whether or not I have a clue how a character will respond to them. They simply must be written about, because they can be.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing in one form or another all my life. One of my earliest stories featured a lady bug with Kafkaesque tones I wrote at the age of nine. Anything involving words I jumped at the chance to create from high school to college to work life from poems, essays, marketing material – anything became a story. The past ten years I’ve seriously focused on fiction. My love of writing fiction began first with short stories, novels, and flash fiction and lately it’s an exploration of both mediums.
What kind(s) of writing do you do?
I write both short and long fiction.
What I love the most about flash fiction is that I can experiment more with language and take bigger leaps of the imagination. It’s easier to see the end of a story in short form than it is with a longer story. Novels are often multiple stories within stories, so it’s much more complex to navigate the various plots and twists. But then there’s the full development of a character’s psyche and life and that can be very exciting to see play out with all the layers that build upon each other. I do that thematically with much of my short fiction in Flashes from the Other World whether it’s the exploration of the paranormal to the intangible forms of nature having their say…I like to give voice to characters that are not typically heard.
What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?
Stories are our humanity. They are our existence whether imagined or not. The writing and reading of stories brings us closer to others through the imagination, the heart, the soul – the everything! Stories allow us to move beyond ourselves and into other places and back again.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Isabelle Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, T.C. Boyle, Alli Smith, Zadie Smith, Aimee Bender, Joyce Carol Oats, Katsuo Ishiguro, Alice Sebold and Barbara Kingslover.
Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?
I write by intuition. Logic occurs after the initial idea is explored, then I go back and find the core and linear structure of the story.
Now here is a really weird, but fun one...what trash item did you see that inspired you to write a story?
In one of my stories I found a whole character when I saw a manikin head on a dumpster.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I am working on two story collections. One is a paranormal collection with a clairvoyant gal as the central, reoccurring character. It explores her life with her Grandmas, ghosts and friends from the age of five to about twenty. The other collection has a sensual tone and explores various single women’s journeys with dating and relationships.
To learn more about author Julie Weinstein visit her website at http://www.juliewrite.com, or http://www.julieweinstein.com and her blog at http://flashesofmagicrealism.blogspot.com.