We recently published Exodus Oktavia Brownlow’s witty “The Terrible Darling.”
Here, we ask her two questions about her story:
1) Well, you already know I’m just in love with the darling’s request for her husband to cheat: “just once, and with someone not as pretty.” That is such a great detail and it goes so perfectly with the voice here — what made you think of this specific request? I’m dying to know!
I think that line came to me because often, when someone is discovered to be a cheater, it always boils down to two questions–what do they look like and what do they do (in life)? What a person looks like often equates to how valuable they are to society. And I think with this story, since the act of cheating isn’t to really hurt the bond, but instead to strengthen it with a kind of planned-ugliness, I really wanted to ensure that this level of respect (by the wife being cheated on by someone of “lesser value”) was included, here.
2) You always include such perfect details in your writing — I love things like “a muted snap” and the teeth that remain “white against dark-roasted coffee days.” How do you find a balance between the intimate details like that and the spareness that flash requires?
With everything that I write, it’s usually almost-always the visuals that come to me first. Visuals, and dialogue. When I write, everything plays out for me, like a movie. What I love doing when I write flash, is finding the magic in those visuals (specifically if it’s literary fiction), and showcasing them in a way that makes them as vivid as they appear in my mind. When I write flash, I usually never know that it’s going to be flash until it is. I never go into the process with the word count in mind, with how short I’ll have to be with the piece. I let myself write it all out, every detail that matters to me. When I go back, and look it all over, and I realize what sentences showcase those details the best, what words bring to life those visuals, I allow myself to exclude the others that don’t. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it’s almost always fun–having to be disciplined in this way.