Interview with Kelli Short Borges: Summer 2023 Flash Fiction Contest First Place Winner

Tuesday, January 23, 2024
Kelli Short Borges writes essays, short stories, and flash fiction from her home in Phoenix, Arizona. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Flash Boulevard, Gone Lawn, The Tahoma Literary Review, The Citron Review, Cleaver, The Sunlight Press, MoonPark Review, The Penn Review, multiple anthologies, and elsewhere. Kelli is a 2024 Best of the Net and 2023 Best Microfiction nominee. Recently, she placed 2nd in WOW! Women on Writing’s Winter 2023 Flash Fiction Contest. Often, you can find her at her favorite local bookstore, where she gobbles up lemon cake and books in equal measure. She is currently working on her first novel. You can connect with Kelli on her website:

interview by Marcia Peterson

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

Kelli: Thank you so much, Marcia. First, I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone at WOW! and to literary agent Fiona Johnson for choosing my story alongside the work of some really talented women.

The seeds of “North” began when I visited Iceland with my husband a couple of years ago in the winter. I found the unique, stark beauty there breathtaking, and was inspired to write some traditional Haiku, which unexpectedly grew into a larger story about an unhealthy relationship, and a woman ultimately finding the strength and agency to walk away. It’s a theme that I seem to come back to again and again in my stories, one I’m passionate about.

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

Kelli: Writing flash fiction is really fun! If you’re interested in trying it for the first time, I recommend signing up for a class or workshop focusing on the form. There are some great teachers of flash out there, and you’ll be learning alongside other students, which can be motivating, encouraging, and rewarding.

WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Kelli: To be honest, I really don’t have routines (but I should, it’s something I’m working on). I write whenever and wherever I’m inspired to write. Many times, it’s first thing in the morning, before I’m even out of bed. I might have a dream with vivid imagery or the rhythm of a piece come forward and I don’t want to lose that, so I grab my phone and make notes, then it grows into a larger piece from there. I do have an office, but I rarely use it for writing. I tend to write in bed or on the sofa, where I’m more comfortable. When I haven’t been organically inspired to write for awhile I sign up for workshops, which I find to be incredibly helpful, inspiring, and motivating. If I need to have a piece ready to share with the group and there’s a time crunch it’s surprising what can emerge! It’s great to be pushed outside of my comfort zone.

WOW: You’re also currently working on your first novel. Can you tell us anything about it, and what your novel writing journey has been like so far?

Kelli: I’m really excited to be diving into a larger project. I'm learning as I go, and at this point I’m working on a first draft. I’m still in the discovery stage, it’s really just the beginning. Several months ago, one of my mentors mentioned that I might consider exploring the development of my novel through flash. It was a brilliant suggestion, as I can discover and play with character, setting, conflict, and theme using the tool of this very short form before I commit to a traditional novel, doing much of the story mapping through flash. Who knows what form my book will ultimately take, but what I do know is this: at the very heart it touches upon elements that I find come up again and again in my writing, themes of strength and trust and letting go of things that don’t serve us, as women. I can’t wait to see where it goes!

WOW: Best of luck with the book!  Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Kelli. Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Kelli: I think, many times, that we second guess ourselves. It’s scary to put something we personally created out into the world, and to take a chance. But you’ll never know what can happen if you don’t try. And honestly, having the courage to try is truly a win in itself. Go for it!

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Priscilla Bettis said...

Excellent interview. Good luck with the novel, Kelli!

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