Five Questions with Kim Chinquee

Posted by Rusty on December 23, 2022

Kim Chinquee is the recipient of a Henfield Prize and a Pushcart Prize. She writes flash fiction, short stories, novels, nonfiction, and poetry. She is a regular contributor to NOON, DENVER QUARTERLY, CONJUNCTIONS, and has also published work in PLOUGHSHARES, THE NATION, STORYQUARTERLY, FICTION, MISSISSIPPI REVIEW, and over a hundred other journals and anthologies. She is the author of the collections OH BABY, PRETTY and PISTOL, senior editor of ELJ (ELM LEAVES JOURNAL), and associate editor of NEW WORLD WRITING. She lives in Buffalo, NY. She is former fiction editor of and contributor to Night Train. She's one of our favorite writers of flash fiction under all its names and iterations.

What keeps bringing you back to the flash fiction form?

I like the brevity of the form, how a flash can reveal so much in such a small space. How these word arrangements can collectively make a piece its own little gem.

What are you working on now? Is it too much to hope it’s a novel?

Yes, always. I continue to work on both long and short forms. I'm currently working on a novel based on my experiences during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. And I continue to write flash fiction on a regular basis.

What flash writers do you look to for models?

Lydia Davis. Diane Williams. Amy Hempel. Kawabata's Palm in the Hand stories. And many others.

How do you teach flash fiction? How do students react to the form?

I provide a lot of writing exercises, which allows students to focus on something they may not otherwise. (Favorite exercise is: write about a stranger in the kitchen.) We then discuss elements of craft: plot, character, tone, language, POV, etc. I routinely refer to Brian Kiteley's book 3AM Epiphany, and The Rose Metal Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, along with exercises and examples of my own.

You’ve published a book of prose poems. How do you know when prose poems become flash fiction or vice versa?

I would probably consider that book more flash fiction than prose poems. It was a publisher's choice to call them prose poems, which I was fine with. Though the flash fiction form has been around a long time, in 1994--with the publication of the anthology Flash Fiction, edited by James Thomas, Denise Thomas, and Tom Hazuka--the term "flash fiction" was defined as fiction of 750 words or less, and that's become its definition. In the anthology The Prose Poem: An International Anthology, published in 1976, Michael Benedikt defines prose poems as pieces containing the properties of "(1) the unconscious, (2) the use of everyday speech, (3) a visionary thrust, (4) a certain humor, and (5) hopeful skepticism." I talk about this extensively in an essay published in The Rose Metal Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction.

Why We Took It - "Mon Dieu!" by Joan Wilking

Posted by Rod on December 22, 2022

We loved this story for the way it plunges in medias res into the recklessness and adrenaline rush surrounding these characters on the run. Drugs, sex and danger ominously inform the story, and the woman knows what she should do. Joan Wilking’s fine, sharp writing affords us a glimpse into the mess. 


~The Editors

Why We Took It - "Things Unused" by Kim Chinquee

Posted by Rod on December 14, 2022

Kim Chinquee is a model for flash fiction writers. Her ability to imply much and say little is commendable enough, but when combined with her absolute fidelity to the apt felt-life detail, it propels her work into the first rank of fiction writers anywhere. In this story, a couple range about, deciding exactly where their relationship opens and closes. The final sentence, the upward lift of the man's mouth, tells us both everything and nothing when taken in context. A masterful short piece by a masterful writer.

~ The Editors

Why We Took It - "Her Secret Life" by Pamela Painter

Posted by Rod on December 9, 2022

Pamela Painter is a living legend in the world of flash fiction, and we're so pumped to have her work in Night Train. We took this story because of the juxtaposition of the weird and the fun. It's a perfect example of the completely unexpected ending making a story pop with energy.

~The Editors

Why We Took It - "Life of Pie" by Gary Moshimer

Posted by Rod on December 1, 2022

"Life of Pie" by Gary Moshimer


Along with its humor and startling imagery, we loved the speck of redemption buried in the absurdity. We loved Mervin Bruce, and all the Mervin Bruces in the world, fighting the good fight against hate and bigotry. 

~ The Editors

Submissions Closing Friday!

Posted by Rod on November 25, 2022

Hey there, we're officially closing submissions for the 2015 Anthology (stories > 1,500 words and poetry) Friday December 5!


Firebox Fiction submissions are accepted year round.


Happy Holidays!

This is a quiet story, not much action, plot, or drama, but we love how it evokes the transience of human existence, how it recalls that our individual lives are all at once everything and nothing.  The woman’s worry about her expensive perfume is a sharp contrast to what’s in front of her:  the timeless setting of the Eternal City and its vast human landscape over centuries. She is not named in the story, and the reader senses she’s already a ghost.

~The Editors

We Want To Have Too Many Options

Posted by Rod on November 1, 2022

Do you have an idea how badly the editors of literary journals want the next submission they look at to be fantastic?  I wonder sometimes if the reader or, for that matter, the writer really understands the very real desire to find something magical in the submissions box. 

We aren’t in this game because we enjoy telling people no or because of power or any other silly idea like that.  At least those of us who really love amazing literature and have no agenda aren’t.  We are in this game to find beautiful stories and poetry and then share them with others who appreciate the same.

Night Train receives absolutely top-notch submissions, so that hope that the next one is going to be amazing is even greater.  What would be a perfect day for us at the office?  Well, having too many submissions that just absolutely stun us to even know how to handle them.  That would be an amazing day.  So, get to it, you all. 

~  Sheldon Lee Compton, Night Train Associate Editor

[email protected]

Coming Soon @ Firebox Fiction

Posted by Rod on November 1, 2022

In the coming weeks, you'll see stories by these wonderful writers:


Kim Chinquee

Pamela Painter

Joan Wilking

Gary Moshimer

Brandon Patterson

Frank Scozzari


Stay tuned!

Why We Took It - "Contractor's Mix"

Posted by Rod on October 29, 2022

The story deals with a dying man whose wife wants to have a baby regardless of the man’s bleak prognosis. Along the way, the narrator describes how, during the renovation of their home, his wife accidentally picked up grass seed that was “contractor’s mix”—a mix of grass seed that is meant to provide a short-lived lush lawn—until the house is sold—and then it dies. We loved the oblique metaphor that rides shotgun to the events of the story, the bitter in the bittersweet.

~ The Editors

Poetry Submissions Temporarily Closed

Posted by Rod on October 19, 2023

Hi folks, we've built up a hefty backlog of Poetry submissions. Rather than make our writers wait too long for a reply, we're going to suspend Poetry submissions until we feel we can keep up with the volume. One key tenet we try never to ignore is to respond to our writers within a month of the submission date, and right now we can't do that. Thanks for understanding.


~ The Editors

"Recycling" - Why We Took It

Posted by Rod on October 8, 2023

Recycling” by Jenn Stroud Rossmann

Why we took it:

We loved its fierce voice and humor, and the way it evokes the pressures and challenges of modern life along with the vulnerabilities of parenthood.


~ The Editors

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