Smoking with Fish Fellow Adam Peterson

Adam Peterson

Adam Peterson

Adam Peterson was this year’s winner of the Kathy Fish Fellowship at SmokeLong. You will see stories from him in the next four issues of SmokeLong Quarterly, starting with “Recess.”

Here senior editor Tara Laskowski picks his brain a little:

Why did you decide to apply for the Kathy Fish Fellowship?

You know, I’d been meaning to submit to SmokeLong for so long but always forgetting or missing windows, that when I heard about the Fellowship I began my application that day. It’s not only the association with a great journal like SmokeLong (not to mention a great writer like Kathy), but the chance to work with and think about flash fiction over an extended period of time. Too often short short work gets less attention—even from me—and an opportunity like this gives me a chance to really focus on some projects I wanted to finish.

This is your first story published as a Kathy Fish Fellow at SmokeLong. What do you hope to accomplish over the next year with your writing?

All of the pieces I hope to publish are coming from my manuscript 9966 which is made up of 99 stories of 500 words or less. I’ve got a draft, but I know I need a few more stories to replace some weaker ones and then polish the whole. If over the next year I can get that manuscript into a good shape, I’ll have done okay.

If you were going to describe your writing style in five words, what would you say?

Um jeesh O boy ghosts.

What would surprise people to know about you?

For most people it’s probably anything. Literally anything. How about this: I tend to read a lot more poetry than fiction when working on flash pieces. The project I’m currently working on has led me back to novels a bit, but even then the ones I’m most drawn to now tend to be getting shorter. I worry that in five years I’ll only read fast food billboards.

We’ve been joking around these SLQ parts that we’ve been getting a lot of dead baby stories sent to us these days. Your application included TWO dead kid stories. WHY ARE YOU KILLING CHILDREN? Just kidding. I’m more curious about themes that you see popping up in your stories. For example, I think I’m always, in one way or another, writing stories about women realizing they are in relationships with deadbeats. Do you think that you tend to dwell on certain themes, scenarios, topics? What story are you always wanting to tell?

Haha, O God, really? I’m surprised it was only two. Actually, I don’t kill children that often—or at least I wouldn’t have thought—but I do deal with death a good bit, I think. I also write a lot about big/strange/confused houses, I’ve realized. Like, places where not just one family lives but several for a kind of weird community. Also, there are probably ghosts.

The story I’ve always wanted to tell: the novel I just finished the first draft of feels like something I’ve been working toward for a long time. Sickness, love, a big house—it’s got all the Adam Peterson you could ask for. You probably shouldn’t ask for that though.

I say, “Let’s go have a drink!” What do you order? (Especially if the tab is on me.)

Let’s do it. I’m pretty set with beer most nights but I’m not against a cheap scotch or, if you’ll let me pay for it, a nice Manhattan.

You mentioned in your application that you are working on a larger text of connected flashes–or at least using flash within a larger work. Can you talk more about that project?

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and, while I’m not sure if the novel I mentioned above would read as short shorts to most people, it’s drawing on a lot of the same techniques, I think. We’ll see how it holds up over the drafts—as I shoehorn in some ghosts—but I wanted to write short, contained chapters. Not sure if it’s entirely successful yet—or if this is the project that nails exactly what I one day hope to do with short shorts becoming a larger project—but it’s the closest I’ve come.

Where can we find other Adam Peterson stories? (links please!)

Here and here and here are a few other short shorts. And here’s a longer story.

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