Interview with Kaylie Hatch, First Place Winner of Summer 2021 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Kaylie’s Bio:
Writing has been Kaylie’s passion ever since first grade, when she realized she didn’t just have to tell a story; she could let her imagination run wild, and fall in love with her characters. She especially loves fantasy and science fiction—genres where she can really let her imagination play. She is currently working her way to making a career of writing. She writes short stories, flash fiction, poems, and novels, but this is her first time actually being published. She also loves reading aloud, be it her stories, or those written by others. She was born in Seattle, and still misses the Pacific Northwest, but now lives in Dallas. You can connect with her @i-prefer-the-term-antihero on tumblr, @antiherowriting on twitter, and/or @i_prefer_the_term_antihero on Instagram. She loves chatting with fellow writers, and receiving feedback on her work, as well as prompts!

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Summer 2021 Flash Fiction competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Kaylie: Thank you so much!! It still doesn’t feel quite real to be honest. I can’t believe I won!!

I’ve been writing for a long time, and while I have always been serious about it, I’d never entered any official competitions before. One day I just decided I really wanted to enter a flash fiction contest and yours came up. Yours was certainly the most appealing. Even just reading the rules the competition felt very personable. I really loved your option to receive critiques too. it’s been a wonderful experience all around.

WOW:  Love to hear that! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “The Dressing Room?”

Kaylie: It actually originally began as an idea for a prompt of another writing group I’m in. They do weekly prompts, and one was “Staring into Their Eyes.” That was back in March of this year. I decided to submit a different story for that prompt specifically, but that idea of The Dressing Room was one I never quite forgot. I always wanted to make it into something because it felt like it could be a really powerful idea if done well. It seems that you guys agree and I couldn’t be happier!!

The one thing I know for sure it was inspired by was something in one of Terry Pratchett’s works. In Witches Abroad there’s a scene where Granny Weatherwax becomes trapped in a prison of mirrors. Death tells her that she will get out when she finds the one that’s real. She looks down at herself and says “this one.” I always found that idea extremely powerful, and had wanted to do something similar for a long time.

I’m sure it partially came from being someone who struggles with anxiety and self-image too, and knowing there were others around me who struggled with similar issues. But ultimately I think probably everyone has that one thing they want to be more of—more beautiful, more intelligent, more powerful, happier, etc.

I had this idea of a dressing room where you could “dress” as another version of yourself, rather than clothes. I liked this thought of someone being able to bring their desires to change themselves into fruition. The power of the dressing room is a horrible one, really. It’s the kind of thing that looks wonderful on the surface—you get to be the best version of yourself—but in practice…how much of you—the you who walked into that room—would you lose in picking another version of yourself? Which version of yourself is the one who walks into the room? What quality do you possess most abundantly? What if the version of yourself who walks into the room doesn’t possess one quality in particular, but rather already has all those qualities you want, and you don’t even realize it? What if you’d lose more than you gained by choosing a single version of yourself?

So this story is kind of my encouragement to anyone who looks in the mirror and sees something they want to change about themselves. That perhaps you are already the best version of yourself.

WOW:  That's a great message. What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?

Kaylie: It really was that other writing group I’m in that sparked a passion for flash fiction in me. (The group is called Tale Foundry, if anyone’s curious). I joined it in early December last year. Previously I would write in the opposite direction—my pieces would be very long, sometimes too long. But I liked this idea of writing a piece every week, and was willing to stretch my limits to get everything I wanted to say into the small word limit. I expected the word limit to be a burden, but after doing that for a year I’ve become rather fond of it. I really enjoy the challenge of it. I think it’s helped my other writing a lot too because it’s taught me how to edit much faster, and say what I want to say in a more concise manner—as well as simply help me figure out what I truly want to say in the first place.

WOW: Can you tell us what projects are you currently working on? What can we plan on seeing from you in the future?

Kaylie: I’m always working on a lot of things at once, but what you can probably expect next from me is I’d like to begin submitting short stories to magazines. I’m currently working on a science fiction story. I’ll probably also continue to submit flash fiction to competitions (probably even to more of yours) too!

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Kaylie. Before you go, do you have a favorite writing tip or piece of advice you can share?

Kaylie: It has more to do with critique, but honestly the best piece of writing advice I ever got—and I regularly give this advice to other writers—is that other writers will often critique you based on how they would have written the piece.

When I was starting out, I thought I had to take every critique given me—that other people would obviously know better than me. But one day someone critiquing me paired her critique with that piece of advice and it kinda changed my life.

I realized that other people didn’t by default know better than me. They're people too, with their own styles and preferences. I was allowed to look at their critiques and go “would changing this benefit the piece as a whole?” and I was allowed to say “no.” Because that’s what matters: what benefits the piece.

Now that’s not to say you should blow off every critique you get, certainly not. Like I said, ask yourself if taking the critique would benefit the piece. Sometimes it will. But other times it’s just a stylistic choice and you’re free to take pride in the choice you made.

There is so much writing advice out there, but after around fifteen years of writing, I’ve found that almost every “rule” people make about writing isn’t truly a hard and fast rule that applies in every situation. (Like, people say you shouldn’t use adverbs and passive voice. There is absolutely a reason people say that, and you should pay good attention to when you’re using either, but you can certainly use both to great effect as well).

All that to say, as weird as it might sound, the best piece of writing advice I have is…sorta, don’t give others’ advice too much power over you. Know that it’s your writing. And your writing journey. I’ve found people tend to learn those writing rules I mentioned before with time, but only through learning how those rules work through their own writing.

So in a nutshell…be true to yourself, and be willing to go on your own journey with writing. Learn to enjoy your writing first and foremost.

Thank you for chatting with me!! As well as for all the support!! I’ve had such a wonderful time participating in this contest!!


For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.


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