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Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Interview with Jacqueline Parker: Winter 2023 Flash Fiction Contest First Place Winner

Jacqueline Parker studied at Queens University in Charlotte, NC where she currently resides with her boyfriend and dog. Her fiction often explores broken family structures and female identity, but occasionally she writes something funny. Her work has been featured in Prime Number Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and elsewhere. Connect with her on Instagram/Twitter @onmytangent, and Facebook @ jacqueline.parker.142.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on winning first place in our Winter 2023 Flash Fiction competition! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “I, Priscilla?”

Jacqueline: Thank you so much! It’s an honor to be recognized among so many great authors.

I came up with the bones for this piece while I was in the bath. I actually come up with a lot of story ideas while in or around water. For me, a bath is very meditative. It’s a space where I can relax uninterrupted, where nothing is required of me other than to just be. I also happen to have some faulty plumbing, so the idea of a “built-in hourglass” is very real to me. At that particular moment, I desperately wanted to be in a gigantic clawfoot, actual person-sized bathtub with decent plumbing.

Around that time, I was also writing a lot about identity, specifically the idea of who we are versus who we want to be or believe we could be. I think there are a multitude of facets to a person—it just takes certain circumstances or people to bring them out. Thus, Priscilla was born as the narrator’s more elegant self.

WOW: Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?

Jacqueline: I’m longwinded and tend to circle around a point until I find the best way of saying it. Someone I know calls this “landing the plane.” I have a hard time with that. Flash helps me hone my skills and tell a story more efficiently. I love the challenge of choosing the strongest word and chopping word count… to me, it’s like a puzzle in which every word matters.

WOW: What advice would you give to someone wanting to try writing flash fiction for the first time?

Jacqueline: Write your story first without worrying about word count and verb choice—just get your idea down. Then knock out inessential details. (Did my reader need to know the bath bomb scent? No.) (It was cherry blossom, for the record.) Then, pull out the thesaurus and start refining word choice. The rest falls into place.

Also—read and take note of authors you like and how they develop their stories. Flash is hella quick to read, so it doesn’t take a huge commitment. Smokelong Quarterly, Flash Fiction Online, and Fractured Lit are some publications I enjoy. And read Kathy Fish’s Substack Art of Flash Fiction. It’s very useful.

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

Jacqueline: I’m always working on a variety of things at the same time. It’s amazing I can get anything done, to be honest. I have a few flash pieces in the works but I’m really trying to tackle my first novel(la). It started as a short story but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it to be longer so here we are.

WOW: Best of luck with the novel/novella, whichever it turns out to be. Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Jacqueline. Before you go, do you have a favorite writing tip or piece of advice you can share?

Jacqueline: I have a lot—but my biggest one lately is to get out of your own head. Stop asking permission to write about XYZ or experiment with narrative or POV. Just do it. Who the heck is the gatekeeper to writing YOUR story? When you get to the second, third, or twentieth draft, then start worrying about how those questions play into the final product. Until then, just write the damn thing.


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

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