Featured Writer (Issue 18, 2021)

Interview with Tommy Dean

Editor’s Pick

Damon: What keeps you motivated, as far as your writing and publishing?

Tommy: Getting better! This is a murky, independent standard, that is only subjective to my own writing process! Some days this is just writing a great sentence or fine-tuning a metaphor that makes a story come alive for me while drafting! I’m really interested in finding news ways to use flash word counts to create new story structures that lead to authentic characters and true resonance. I want to feel something while I’m writing, so hopefully readers will feel something when they engage with my writing! For publishing, I’m excited to place my stories in new venues and familiar favorites! Before I had a Twitter account, I felt like all of my writing, even when published, went into a void. I love sharing my work with my writing community and I hope to continue to find litmags that support flash and micro fiction!

Damon: You have a huge imprint (influence?) on literary twitter, do you feel any pressure to produce work?

Tommy: Social media is a boon and a curse! I definitely write for others to read and engage with my work and social media helps me get that work to a wider range of readers! But it certainly makes you feel a pressure to publish, and publish well. To create content, to gather likes and comments, because it makes you feel as if you are making progress, when it so far from the actual writing, right? One of the reasons I think I struggle to write longer works, especially the novel is the pressure to publish. Not only from myself, who created this marker of success. I once published 30 stories in a year, and now anything less than that can feel like a failure, even though it’s not! So how do you hide away and just write, giving writing the concentration and time it deserves and not feel the pressure to publish? I’m sure a lot of writers struggle with this. Every time I sit down to write, I have the desire to produce something worthwhile, when really I should think of it as practice, like shooting free throws in my driveway. Content to be doing a thing I love…well most of the time!

Damon: Which piece of work are you most proud of and which one was the most difficult?

Tommy: I’m most proud of my story, “You’ve Stopped” originally published in Pithead Chapel and then anthologized in Best Microfiction 2019 and Best Small Fictions 2019. Awards aside, this story feels like a true representation of my flash writing, of the way we can build resonance and true feeling in such a short space. This story poured out in one sitting, and it just felt perfect in some way. The most difficult story I have written, besides the unfinished ones, is “Hollows.” This was published by the Lascaux Review thanks to the generosity of Stephen Parrish. It’s based on a real-life event and I tried to write it as CNF for many years, but I didn’t have enough distance and/or context to bring the characters/personas alive the way I hope I did in this fictionalized version. This story easily took five years to write and I’m so grateful for Stephen’s generous, and smart edits to help me crystallize this experience for myself and hopefully readers!

Damon: What do you have planned for the coming year?

Tommy: So many exciting things are happening for my writing and editing! I’ll be launching a new genre short story magazine, Uncharted, on August 1st. My chapbook, Covenants, from ELJ Editions comes out in November! (Thank you Damon and A!) My full collection of Flash/short stories tentatively titled Hollows is being published by Alternating Currents Press in February 2022 just in time for me to attend AWP 2022 in Philadelphia!

Damon: Finally, how are you doing?

Tommy: What a caring and generous question! This year has been fraught with anxiety over health concerns, hoping that family members didn’t get sick, and deciding to go the freelance editing and teaching route. I feel so blessed to be able to wake up every day and do what I love and help writers realize their publishing dreams and get better at writing flash and micro fiction. So while I’m busier than ever, I’m so grateful for all of the trust that writers place in my hands and so thankful for all of the editors who have read my work and given me an opportunity to publish my stories. I’ve found some amazing people to work with, Emerge and ELJ at the top of that list and at this moment I feel happy.


Tommy Dean lives in Indiana with his wife and two children. He is the author of a flash fiction chapbook entitled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. He is the Editor at Fractured Lit. He has been previously published in the BULL Magazine, The MacGuffin, The Lascaux Review, New World Writing, Pithead Chapel, and New Flash Fiction Review. His story “You’ve Stopped” was chosen by Dan Chaon to be included in Best Microfiction 2019. Find him @TommyDeanWriter on Twitter.



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