Q & A with Catherine Sword

Meet contributor Catherine Sword
Catherine Sword, a librarian for 25 years at a public library, is now back to her first love, writing. She particularly likes to write flash fiction. Read her latest on CommuterLit, “Stealing Time” here.

CommuterLit: You seem to focus on flash fiction entirely. Why?

Catherine Sword: I was inspired by Kent Thompson’s postcard stories years ago. I hadn’t realized exactly how short a story could be. Also, I’d say time is a big factor. Working full time on top of the usual day-to-day living doesn’t allow for a lot of time to write longer pieces, although I do that too. It’s just so satisfying to be able to steal a short amount of time and end up with something complete.

CL: What to your mind makes a really great flash fiction story?

CS: For me, one of two things although getting both is a bonus. Either a surprise ending, or mood.  Sometimes the mood pieces may feel incomplete, like my “Postcard Story #2,” but I consider these glimpses. I may have gotten the idea from Kent Thompson. He’d written one story of a person walking by an open window and hearing a snippet of conversation. At the time I briefly thought it was a rip off. As a reader I wanted to know what that was all about, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much of life is like that. Plus, I couldn’t deny that his short story had me thinking about it for days so short truly can be sweet.

CL: What themes in your stories do you revisit constantly and why?

CS: In some of my longer pieces, “Bread,” for example, just under 700 words, I’d say poverty is a theme I return to often. I also have a novel on wattpad, The Poor House, which is a broader exploration of not only financial, but emotional poverty.

CL: What books/authors are you currently reading and why?

CS: I’ve recently finished Charlene Jones’ novel, The Stain, which I enjoyed because it’s a topic I’m curious about — reincarnation. Now I’m part way through Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle. I especially love King’s novels for the way he uses magic realism and humour. I also have a graphic novel version of Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings.  I’m curious to see how that works. Another graphic novel that I’m keen to get to is Blacksad: Amarillo, but I need to book time with my husband to do that. His French is better than my own, but I will buy any Blacksad I can get my hands on for the artwork, and for some reason, I like the noir detective, who happens to be a black panther.

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