We recently published Mike Chin’s awesome “When She Was Bad.”
Here, we ask him two questions about his story:
1) I love the character you’ve created here. It seems like you’d need a lot of knowledge about wrestling to create this world. Is this something you’re interested in or did you have to do research to create this character?
If I had to identify as something other than a writer, my next pick would be ‘great big wrestling nerd.’ I’ve loved professional wrestling for as long as I can remember, though that interest has evolved over time from enjoying what I saw on my TV screen as a kid to now having equal or greater interest in how it works behind the scenes, and the complex social/psychological dynamics that go into people filling an arena to actively cheer and boo a form of entertainment that most of them realize is more storytelling than athletic competition. I’m interested, too, in the complex lives of wrestlers who are largely playing characters and play-fighting, sure, but also walk fine lines in terms of keeping up their personas in public settings and legitimately taking physical punishment in the name of their craft. In any event, the character in this story is the central subject of a bundle of linked flash fiction that I drafted a while back and have been revising and slowly sending out into the world.
2) A lot of your writing focuses on carnival folk and other unusual people. What draws you to these kinds of characters?
I’m a big believer in character-driven literature, and inventing ones who live by unusual codes or under unusual circumstances invites all the more original, unexpected choices characters will have to make in their stories. Most of my work around wrestlers and circus performers happen in (separate collections of) linked short fiction, so there’s the added benefit, too, of letting one story enrich another as I figure out more about characters who may figure more prominently in one story, and can work backward to see how they might impact another. The circus performers have the added benefit–in my work–of walking a line between showmanship and actual magic, which is one of my favorite lines to play with in my writing.