This week we are thrilled to interview award winning, flash fiction writer, Tara L Masih.
Hi Tara and thanks for joining us on Horror Scribes. Please tell us a bit about you and your writing.
Well, I’ve experimented with just about every genre. Nonfiction essays, articles and interviews, poetry, short stories, and flash fiction. Finally, I’ve tackled the novel. Not easy. I like more immediate gratification, which comes from publishing shorter pieces in journals with faster responses. A novel is a huge commitment, but like a good partner, I finally found a story and a topic I was passionate enough about that it held my attention through the 4 years I researched and wrote. Now it’s in the final stages of editing, and I’m thrilled. My Real Name Is Hanna is due out in Fall 2018. I feel like I ran a marathon. I need to get back to the shorter sprints for a while.
Flash fiction is still in its early days and hasn’t yet been fully embraced by mainstream culture. Do you think it ever will and how can you see it grow as a genre?
It already has become more accepted in the academic world. I don’t think mainstream culture has turned away from it, I think many haven’t yet been exposed. I’m hoping the Best Small Fictions series brings it to a wider audience. But I’ve heard many times that readers prefer novels to short stories because they need to get lost in literature. For many, it’s escapism from the real world that rarely meets our expectations. The novel allows readers to get lost for a long time. Flash fiction, like poetry, will always have a smaller audience for that reason alone. And that is fine. I don’t think we flashers should get obsessed with keeping up. Let it be there for those who come to it.
Flash fiction challenges the basic structure of storytelling (beginning, middle and end). Is this a limitation of the genre?
There are no limitations in creativity. Its challenges are exactly what draw many writers to experiment with flash. Poets make great flashers. They understand the economics of prose naturally. It’s harder for prose writers to tackle it. Harder for them to be concise.
How do you feel about flash fiction as a medium for horror?
What matters to me as a reader is not the length of a piece, but the quality. If someone can tell a great horror story in less than 1,000 words, I’m all for it! Flash shouldn’t be limited to literary flash. But horror writers would do well to study the successful literary flash writers or prose poetry writers and learn some of their techniques.
What scares you the most and do you have a horror scene/passage/novel that has stayed with you?
The great horror I’ve read (Stephen King comes to mind) is based in reality. There is nothing scarier than another human being, and what that human being is capable of doing, whether it’s acting as a human or is possessed. I think King’s Secret Window scared me the most. That feeling of isolation and what is lurking just outside the door or window. In terms of flash, we’ve seen some great thriller/horror stories in Best Small Fictions. “Dead Gary” by Dan Moreau comes to mind (2015), and “States of Matter“ by Tara Laskowski (2017). What stayed with me was the unique way in which each author portrayed death or dying, and its impact on those around the zombie in one story and the sister of a murdered girl in another. Strong images of body parts falling off, or murders taking place, just on the peripheral, just hinted at. I prefer horror that leaves something to the imagination.
What is your advice to new writers?
Read the best of your genre. You will start to find it will creep (no pun intended) into your own writing.
Wow, thanks Tara. I think we can all agree that was great advice and insight.
To find out more about her and her work please visit: