Annie On Writing

October 12, 2015

Thaisa Frank – Author in the Spotlight for Twisted Tales 2015

thaisa Frank b w

Thaisa Franks novels and short story collections include  Enchantment,  Heidegger’s GlassesSleeping in Velvet and A Brief History of Camouflage. She’s a native New Yorker in the colonies of California. She is being interviewed here as part of the upcoming launch for 2015 Twisted Tales Anthology.

The Title of your Flash.

 The New Thieves 

What was your initial motivation or prompt to write this story?

 I was thinking about how hard it is to insert passages in fiction. That is–if what you insert is off, the original text forms antibodies around it like a bad organ transplant. After I thought about this for a while,  I began to wish there were special thieves who could add passages so seamlessly no one noticed.  

Is the character in your story a reoccurring character in your writing?

 In my stores there’s often a “she” or a he—a kind of everywoman or everyman who’s adrift in a world that existed before they arrived  and in many ways doesn’t make sense.  Their mission is to make sense of that world—at least temporarily.

What sort of message of feeling are you hoping you leave your audience with?

 I feel more like a carpenter building a table than someone with a message.  To put it another way–I can tell if a leg on the table is uneven or the top isn’t square. But I’m working with form—and often that means hearing  the music of words and passages and knowing if they sound right. Months later I may see what raw clay in my life–or in what I know of life– I was using.  But that’s not exactly a message.   

In some general sense, though, I’ve always felt we make the world up and the way to illuminate that is to make up more. One of my favorite quotes is by Wallace Stevens The imagination is the weather of the mind. There’s something intimate and exciting about connecting with readers in new weather. So, for example, when I finished that story, I felt excited about the possibility of connecting with a reader in uncharted territory.

What sort of stories do you normally write? (Is this story a break from your norm?)

 This story is like a lot of my fiction– surreal or fabulist. I started out in short forms and continue to work in long and short forms.

Sometime I write stories close to the lap of my life—and have written two semi-autobiographical novellas.

Why is that?

 When I write about something close to my life it has to penetrate deeply and the lag between the event and the writing takes a long time. As for the majority of my work–I’ve already talked about how the life of the imagination and the not-yet-imagined are vehicles for connection.  (I think this is one reason we like to share stories and enjoy listening to children.)

 As for form: I’d written as a kid, but majored in philosophy of science and my voice was totally rusty when I began to write again–like someone learning to sing. So flash was about all my voice could sustain. When I could manage longer passages, I wrote longer stories and finally I wrote a novel. 

I still work in all these forms because they take my voice in different directions and allow for different possibilities.

What projects or new story lines do you have coming up in the near future?

 I’m doing another short story collection, polishing flash I didn’t finish when writing the novel, and writing another novel. I can’t say much about my work because it evaporates if I start to talk about it.  Someone once said you can either write a story or tell it but you can’t do both.  

Do you enter many competitions for flash fiction?

 This is the first I ever entered.  My agent  told me about it.  

Are you a member of a writing group – either online or a physical one?

 I’ve never been in a writing group because I can’t talk about work-in-progress.  Once I had to turn down an MFA fellowship because I was pretty sure I couldn’t be in a workshop and keep my voice which–in turn– mysteriously links to vision.  I teach writing and have even co-authored a book about voice, but I try to deconstruct the workshop form—that is, I try to encourage writers to find their deepest material without telling them what to do with it.  (When I do talk about writing, I tend to talk about meta-stuff, like unity and transition and permission to leave things out.)

Do you think these groups help or hinder a writers journey? I think in many cases they hinder the journey. Why? First, there’s the conundrum of talking about the story too much and how that takes off the lid of the pressure-cooker. Second, writers learn by reading and observing and most of our instructions to ourselves when we write—particularly when finding the right vessel or shape for a story–are inchoate. Other voices can improve a work once the writer has created a draft with a shape;  but premature feedback fractures voice and can mangle that shape. For example: If someone in a writing group thinks a story is a lion, they’ll suggest adding legs. But the story might be a medieval beast that needs a few extra horns. Writers get  confused when they start adding legs to a medieval beast. 

What encouragement or advice do you have for emerging writers of flash fiction?

First, I would tell any writer not to take any advice.  But as long as you asked…. I would tell any writer that it takes time to find that amazing moment in flash when the sentences of the story and the narrative arc (larger than the sum of the sentences) converge.  When you start writing flash, it’s often best to treat each piece like a found dream. Use less time than you think you need and instead of trying to revise, go on to the next piece. Once that amazing convergence happens, you can start to think about polishing a piece. Until then, write a lot. 

How can others follow your journey?  Twitter – Facebook etc. links here. 

On FB, I rarely post to my author page, although it would be nice if people visited at

My personal FB page, which I use a lot, is



Twisted Tales is an annual flash fiction competition celebrating (Inter)National Flash Fiction Day, published by Raging Aardvark Publications. Judged by a panel of experienced short story writers and editors, submissions over the last four years have been extremely high quality; making the job of the judge a difficult one. Authors are drawn from around the globe and stories ranging from lighthearted tales of childhood memories, to gruesome stories to make the reader shiver.


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