Today’s guest, Kristine Ong Muslim, is going to chat about her short story collection “We Bury the Landscape.”
Kristine Ong Muslim is the author of several chapbooks, most recently “Insomnia” (Medulla Publishing, 2012) and “Night Fish” (Elevated Books, 2011). Her forthcoming books include the flash fiction collection “We Bury the Landscape” (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2012), the poetry collection “Grim Series” (Popcorn Press, 2012), and the chapbook “Doll Plagues, Doll Lives” (Thunderclap Press, 2012).
She has short fiction and poetry accepted in over 500 literary and mainstream anthologies, periodicals, and podcasts. Her work received Honorable Mentions in Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and garnered multiple nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2011, and the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Dwarf Stars Award and Rhysling Award. Publication credits include Boston Review, Existere, Mary Journal, Narrative Magazine, Potomac Review, Southword, Sou’wester, and The Pedestal Magazine. Her work is also published widely in genre venues, from Abyss & Apex to One Buck Horror.
Kristine, welcome to Reviews and Interviews. What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
The moment I end it! I rarely plan what I write. So, when a natural way to end the story hits me, I feel sort of vindicated that a short burst of inspiration can be rightfully called a story with a beginning and an ending. My ideal story length has always been in the 300-1,000 word range. I muck up anything longer than that. I sell my micro-fiction to very good markets, the longer ones I’ve written don’t have that much clout when they hit the inboxes of magazine editors. I guess I’m the type of writer who is most effective at being prolific with very short prose. This has led me to believe that any attempt at a novel will be an impossible task for me.
Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
Last year, I finished “We Bury the Landscape,” a collection of 100 mini-stories about different paintings. Many of the flash fiction pieces included in the collection appeared in many fine places. Some of them are online at Connotation Press, The Brooklyner, and Birkensnake. Teasers are at Mixer. Schlock Magazine even made an excellent graphic rendition.
What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Genre is something that I’ve never prioritized. I’ve straddled most genres for years: from the most salacious tentacle horror porn to the classiest literary glossy containing a contribution from a Pulitzer Prize winner. I had work appearing in magazines aimed for kids, and I got paid for writing erotica. I don’t know my favorite genre. I think I like everything. The only time I consider whatever genre my story or poem belongs to is when I’m at the point of looking for a place to send it to.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now, I am simultaneously working on two story collections. I feel that I’m working on something worthwhile here, but of course, I can be wrong. I’m just like all writers — how we all believe that our manuscripts are great at first blush. I’m not an excellent judge of my work. I will have to wait until I finish it, and I get a publisher to stand by it.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I daydreamed about living that proverbial famous-writer life since high school. But my preconceived notions of the writing life have been changed by years of battling my way in and out of the slush piles of the world. It’s a cutthroat world; there are so many talented contemporary writers.
How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
Duotrope, Ralan, and Newpages are perfect places for market research.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I need a window. As much as possible, I need to face a window or an open space when I write. I can’t think well when I’m facing a wall.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to organize beauty pageants. When I was in grade school, I had a bunch of friends, and we regularly spent so much time in my bedroom dressing up as beauty pageant contestants. I was always the host, and I enjoyed ordering them to do their turns and quizzing them with world-peace type of questions. It’s very silly. Every time I see my old friends and we get around to talking about our beauty pageants, we laugh about it.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If you are a reader, you are doing a great job at making the world a better place to live in. If you are a writer, then be a reader first.
Thanks for being here, today, Kristine. It’s been a pleasure getting to know a bit about you and your writing.