Our second interview is with Ani King, author of Your Elegant Noose, which appeared in our second volume. Ani has a lot of black and grey shirts. She always means well, but ask her herb garden how that’s been going. She writes short stories and flash that some people enjoy, and she can be found at thebittenlip.com.
freeze frame fiction: What inspired you to write this piece? Considering the subject matter, I’d guess that’s probably a more personal question than it would usually be.
Ani King: I really struggled with situational depression in high school, and a bit after, but nothing like some of the deep and sometimes terminal depression I’ve seen with others. On a very personal level I have witnessed the way that medication can both help and harm, and this felt like a way to acknowledge that, unpopular as it is as an opinion, not everyone can or will be saved from depression, regardless of the effort.
fff: How long have you been writing? How has your writing changed since you started?
AK: I’ve just come off an unintentional ten-year hiatus, but before that I think I always scribbled little things here and there. I once wrote a really compelling story in which I ended up with Joey from New Kids on the Block. I was twelve and he just didn’t yet know how much he loved me. More recently I wrote a novel in about six weeks, sort of out of the blue. And it was just terrible—I’ve since completely scrapped it, but if nothing else it opened a floodgate. So I was looking online for writers’ workshops or groups in my area and found Scribophile.com. From there I started really writing in earnest, and a lot of the feedback on my first few works was painful to read, but oh so helpful.
fff: Would you consider yourself a flash fiction writer, or do you tend to focus more on other things (poetry, longer fiction, etc.)? What is it you like about flash fiction?
AK: I write a lot of flash, have recently taken up poetry, and have a handful of larger projects to ignore. Flash though is what I think helped me find my stories. There’s something about that word limit that really forces me to distill what I’m trying to say to its most potent form. And reading flash is one of my favorite things—it’s like eating the most incredible, dense chocolate truffle. There’s so much in that one bite, sometimes so many layers that you don’t think about, but it’s satisfying despite the size.
fff: What draws you to write literary fiction? Do you ever venture into genre or more speculative areas?
AK: I have a real fondness for speculative fiction. Hard sci-fi, high fantasy—I don’t write it particularly well because I always try to over explain things. However, I can safely say that Margaret Atwood is my cross-genre spirit animal and she’s shown time and again that you can write incredible literary sci-fi, without making either genre carry the work.
Without trying to define literary fiction, I think it’s that tighter focus, or closer lens, that makes it so appealing. Magical realism in particular is my favorite form of literary fiction to write and read. You have those elements of the unreal, but they’re incidental details rather than being upfront.
fff: How did you choose the numbered list format for this piece, rather than just writing it as a traditional narrative? You have a piece in our experimental volume, too. What do you enjoy about experimental fiction?
AK: The numbered format was something I was playing with for a different sort of piece, but the idea of setting the story up in thirteen sections, similar to a hangman’s noose, made sense. It seemed to stand out as a unifier more with the numbering. This was probably my first foray into non-traditional forms for flash, and was basically a gateway drug. Experimental fiction is so addictive. Good experimental fiction will make you think, and will subvert the form it uses so that the story and the form are well-wed. Great experimental fiction can take a form and just turn it on its head so that the story and form are necessary to each other.
fff: Who are some of your favorite authors—short fiction writers and novelists?
AK: I’m pretty obsessed with Catherynne Valente and Margaret Atwood, and have recently discovered that Tin House pretty much has me pegged as their demographic of readers as far as their novel releases. Kelly Link (Get in Trouble) and Julia Elliot (The Wilds) have recent short story collections that are incredible reads. Oh! And Neil Gaiman is my go-to when I’m too hungry to choose a book and just need something right away.
Want to read Ani’s story? Considering purchasing our volume ii ebook.