Which author is your biggest inspiration?
I’ve had a lifetime love of Philip K Dick’s short stories. I discovered them in my local library, when I was a kiddy. I’ve got a very nice four volume edition of his collected shorts that I go back and reread from time to time. Carol Joyce Oates and Robert Silverberg have also been great influences. I’m delighted that I’ve been table of contents buddies with both of them. What an honour.
What advantages do you think flash fiction or drabbles has to offer you as a writer?
I like to write lean, and let the reader do the heavy lifting. Very short fiction is perfect for that.
It’s also a great medium for the ‘aha’ moment, the satisfying ending that reveals something unexpected. That can be a plot twist, or a character reveal. Let me show you what I meant with one of my science fiction/horror haikus
red goo in the bathtub
nanobots clean anything
divorce was never an option.
I would argue that this is very, very, small story. There’s the mystery at the start: Red goo? What’s all that about? A touch of development: Why cleaning bots? Is this a domestic situation? Does that link to bathtub? Then the resolution of the story, the ‘aha’ moment, the ‘I get it ‘ moment. Many of my drabbles and flash stories follow that structure: mystery, development, (and hopefully) aha.
That haiku was only 14 words, having 100 or even 1000 words is luxury.
Very short fiction can be quick to write. Or it can be. There’s no such thing as a universal answer in writing.
I’ve been deep in novel country this past year or so, writing a book or three. Sometimes, I have a craving to get something finished. And one of my writing superpowers is the ability to write to a set length. So I might say, “Ooh I fancy writing a drabble or a bit of flash.” And I know it’s not going to take a year to get finished.”
It’s a minibreak from novelling.
Find more of Deborah’s short fiction at Nature’s Futures: https://www.nature.com/articles/534146a