Time for another interview, if only to prove to readers and issue buyers that I don’t always slack. We’re talking with Ruben Rodriguez, winner of Issue 7’s Flash Fiction Contest, and it wasn’t even close this time around. An unmentioned fact is that in lieu of prize money cash, he wanted to be paid in issues. Such a darling.
Also, full disclosure, we are related. (This joke plays better if you know my last name and can see how pale, pale, pale I am). Well, somewhere down the line we are, but then again, aren’t all of us? Anyway, here he is.
Describe your work in 25 words or less.
Tell me about your story “Inheritance.”
I wanted to see how much of a relationship I could build over a short stretch of page. The subject matter is a bit gruesome, but I wrote it, so I guess that’s my fault. I was thinking about the extremes of thrift and burning the end of a rope. One thing led to another and I had ended up with a corpse on my hands. The final image is a personal favorite. It’s the only one in the story I can say is in any way autobiographical. I really wanted to give the reader the notion of closure. I don’t know if that comes across, but let’s pretend that it does, and I’ll concede that we are talking about an itty-bitty door.
Is this your first time winning a writing contest? How does it feel?
This is not the first contest I have one, but it is the first time that the prize included publication.
I’m stoked. It’s cool to show people you name in print. It’s the final validation for a story. Someone else in the world has said, Yes, people should read this. And that’s always nice.
What or who inspires you to write?
I do it because I have a good relationship with my subconscious. I like it and its indifferent about me. I’m always curious as to what I’ll write. I try not to give it too much thought. This is not to say I’m driving blindly through a corn maze, but I have been part of a backyard-corn-maze-project and I am a terrible driver with worse vision. I think it is important for people to be in the business of creating, not for any monetary gain, but for the opportunity to increase their humanity.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
This question makes me sit funny in my chair. No Direction Home turned me on to Ginsberg, who led to Kerouac. The two pushed Burroughs, and though I wouldn’t call my style of writing Beatifik, Burroughs’s epigraph in Cities of the Red Night “Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted” is the basis on which I write my stories. Vonnegut lights up my brain. Ron Arias’s The Road to Tamazunchale stirred something in me recently. Aimee Bender blows my socks off, but I’m extremely jealous of her ability, so let’s not talk about that. There are others with stranger and some what impossible to follow connections, but I’d hate to bore everyone.
Do you have a blog/website?
Where can we read you next?
I have stories coming out in The Sand Canyon Review and Badlands. If you really got a hankering Black Heart Magazine and theNewerYork have a few of my stories in their online archives.
What are you working on right now?
Too much. The heart of it is a collection of short stories. They explore the absurdist/surreal quadrants of my brain. I’m inclined to drive myself to utter madness over the summer and dive into a longer project, but let’s keep that labeled as speculative for the time being. I am also excited to start work on The Great American Literary Magazine, a new online journal. Check it out.
Any advice for other writers?
It only happens if you do it.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I saw some people hang-gliding today. I saw someone work a cleaver. And I listed to some Nina Simone. I also broke my comb.