Interview with Amanda Smith: Winter 2024 Flash Fiction Contest Third Place Winner

Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Amanda’s Bio:
Amanda Smith is a budding flash fiction writer, aspiring children’s author, poet, and former high school English teacher. She finds time for writing after working her day job in philanthropy—and putting her toddler to bed. She lives in Silver Spring, MD with her daughter, partner, and two dogs. You can find her on Twitter @amanda-n-smith. 

If you haven't already done so, check out Amanda's award-winning story "Eternity" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Winter 2024 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? 

Amanda: I was inspired by the challenge of brevity in the flash fiction form. One of my writing idols is Octavia Butler, particularly her bend towards futurism and perspectives about change. In this story, my imagination was captured by envisioning a future shaped by AI, specifically, how it might impact relationships and our experience of life and death. I enjoyed exploring a person’s emotional interior alongside a simulation of a human relationship. Hopefully, readers felt some emotional resonance with the main character, too. 

WOW: Oh, yes, as a reader I felt strong emotional resonance with the protagonist; there’s multiple levels to her experience which made it so compelling. What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this story? 

Amanda: I’m falling in love with flash as a form. It suits my season of life and process well. A shorter form is wonderful since I often only have time to write after my little one’s bedtime. My process usually begins with a very sketchy free write and evolves through countless revisions into a fully realized story. Keeping the length contained still gets my creative juices flowing and helps keep the revision process tighter. I also surprised myself with the betrayal aspects of the story! Though I haven’t experienced anything quite like the main character, I’ve certainly felt the pain of not getting the answers you wish you could from someone you’ve lost and the shattering pain of someone not caring for you in the way you imagined. 

WOW: Because you’re a writer and your story is about AI, I’m curious if you have any thoughts, insights, or questions about how AI is currently being used in the writing and publishing industries? 

Amanda: In its current form, AI can be a helpful tool for a writer. I like to use it when brainstorming ideas, feeling stuck, or getting quick editorial feedback when polishing a piece. Like most things, AI is complex, and we need to resist our desire to reduce it to a binary “good for us v. bad for us” frame. Change is constant and inevitable; the writing community needs to harness and shape the direction we want this change to take. There are ethical and material intellectual property elements to consider, and the industry must pay due attention to them. While I believe AI will become increasingly integrated into the writing process, it is not a substitute for a writer. The richness and resonance of any kind of art come from it being an expression of our humanity, an experience that is messy—full of intuition and emotion that cannot be fully simulated; AI may be able to make a decent imitation, but it cannot create art. 

WOW: It is such a complex issue, for writers and other professionals, and I appreciate your insight on it. Thank you. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Amanda: I usually read more than one book at a time—a “nightstand” read and an audiobook for dishwashing, driving, and bouts of insomnia. Currently, I’m listening to City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. This book found me in the recommendations section of an app I use to keep up with an endless “to read” list. (AI has apparently learned that I enjoy stories about strong women.) I was in the mood for something a bit lighter after just finishing Chain Gang All Stars, and the fact that the audiobook version had good reviews sold me. This is a little jewel of a novel about a norm-shirking young woman coming of age in New York. I adore her. 

WOW: We certainly enjoy stories about (and written by!) strong women around here, too! If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why? 

Amanda: Writing is a form of freedom. Do it with abandon and rambunctiousness. Explore. Embrace the fear. It’s all part of the sublime experience of confronting the blank page and making sense of yourself on it. 

WOW: Excellent advice! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Amanda: Thank you to WOW for this community of writers. It is food for my soul. Also, love on your local public library! 

WOW: You’re welcome! And I love the shout out to local libraries. Thank you for sharing your story and your inspiring responses with us. Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes and offers developmental editing and ghostwriting services to partially fund the press. 


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