Meg Tuite Writes Toward Heat and Conflict

It’s no surprise that Meg Tuite’s favorite word is “implosion.” Her flash pieces are fraught with the kind of drama that can’t be contained. Bystanders beware. Her characters are unlikely to go down alone. Just read her three 100-word stories in this issue.

Tuite is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press: An Online Artifact.  She has a monthly column, “Exquisite Quartet,” at Used Furniture Review. Her books include Domestic Apparition and Disparate Pathos.

Tuite also teaches 100-word stories in her classes. We caught up with her to find out more.

All three of your most recent stories for 100 Word Story orbit around the figure of a sister. The role of a sister seems both universal and personal. How did you capture the nuance of sisterhood in your stories?

I was surrounded by a posse of siblings, yet in the Catholic neighborhood I grew up in we had one of the smallest families with six children. We had some neighbors who had 21 kids in their family and no twins. That poor woman birthed almost a case of kids. The father was an electrician and they had two houses to hold the entire brood in.

Your flash fiction piece “Leader of Men” is a colorful snapshot of the life of a husband and wife, all while they cut tomatoes. The piece ends with violent, dramatic, almost bloody imagery. “Graveyard Shift,” “Sister’s Boyfriend,” and “Thirteen” all share this sense of beauty in violence. How do you balance this explosive imagery and plot within the constraints of flash fiction?

My favorite word is “Implosion.” I don’t know if that answers this question?

“Thirteen” is not a flash fiction piece, but the rest are. The most exciting flash for me has intense heat and conflict, while utilizing unique and fresh language.

Meg, you are also a teacher and you implement flash fiction in the classroom. What are the benefits of teaching flash fiction?

I always learn something new with each class. I can’t lose by constant study of the craft and reading what writers in my classes are producing, as well as contemporary writers and those from other centuries. I do love teaching.

How do you capture the voice of a child? What can this youthful voice teach the adult reader?

I’m sure we all remember those intense moments as a child because everything was extreme. The happy, the sad, and the frightening. So childhood tends to be an easy place to go as a writer, at least for me.

Speaking of youth, what is the future of literature, especially flash fiction, in the wake of technology?

I think this latest generation was born with wizard thumbs to whip through those text messages. They watch me with disgust when I spell out each word and use one hand.

As for the future of technology? All I know is that it’s all moving quickly and online magazines are multiplying by the hour. Everything is so accessible, and that can be a great thing. I try to move with it. I get to read the work in my favorite magazines, like yours, as soon as they’re up and published. I love that!

The art of flash focuses on one pure and distilled moment. Sometimes novels and short stories expand around these “flash” moments, like how Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury stemmed from the image of a young girl in a white dress in a tree. How does your writing process differ between flash fiction and novels?

Flash fiction is honing in on a specific moment in time. I’ll quote from a great piece titled ‘How Flash is Like a House,” by Erin Entrada Kelly: “ adjust the scope until the big-picture gets smaller and smaller and fits inside a peephole of one thousand words or less. The flash fiction storyteller writes not of the couple’s romantic saga or their final days, but of the moment when the wife realizes she doesn’t love her husband anymore. That moment is the single room – and in the hands of a skilled writer, that room is enough to tell us more about the rest of the house.”

A novel gives more space to linger over the exposition, the setting, the backstory, the rising and falling action, and some sort of resolution, whereas flash allows the reader to imagine what happened before the story began and what transpired after.

What is the allure of a 100 words for you?

I have always loved to work with a structure. It’s a challenge to try and pull together an interesting narrative and characters in 100 words. I meet with a group of writers every Saturday and now they’re all working on it. I love 100 Word Story because it allows me to rein it in, hone my prose. Now that is a good time for me.

Thank you so much for featuring me in this month’s issue. I’m honored and hope you don’t mind if I continue to send you pieces from time to time to keep me in shape.

Interviewed by Hannah Smith

4 Responses to “Meg Tuite Writes Toward Heat and Conflict”

  1. Joani Reese says:

    Meg Tuite is fast becoming the queen of Flash Fiction. Her stories are dynamic and surprising. She hones them to a sharpness few other writers in the genre can match. I have enjoyed watching her progress and am delighted with her growing success.

    • megtuite says:

      Thank you so much, Joani! WOW! Can’t thank you enough for your generous comments! I so appreciate your reading and taking the time to comment, as well! HUGS and a song heading your way!

  2. Meg Tuite is a master of concision, and this interview and her amazing 100 word stories make me drool for MORE, MORE, MORE! I will never tire of reading her work! Thanks for this.

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