I was lucky enough to talk with Diane Kane, author and publisher, and coauthor of “Flash in the Can, Number One”, a collection of short stories, and asked her a few questions on her writing:
When did you start writing and in what genre?
I’ve always loved to write. I was extremely shy when I was young. I know that’s hard to believe now, but I never talk much when I was a kid. Writing was the way that I expressed myself. I wrote poetry, or at least I tried. I wrote stories, early on they were magical, silly stories. As I grew older, they were sad, serious stories. I loved my English and creative writing classes when I was in high school, and I always credit my teacher Mrs. Rogers for giving me the encouragement that has kept my dream alive all these years. I had a lot of my work published in the Gardner High yearbooks and Argus in the 1970s.
Not long after I graduated, I got married and had two daughters. It was a great time in my life, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t write much during that time, but I never lost my passion for writing. When my kids grew up, I naturally returned to my love for writing. About five years ago, a friend that I worked with at the Athol Post Office, Clare, belonged to a writers group and invited me to join. It was the best thing that could have happened to me as a writer. The group consists of twelve amazing women who have been widely published and are so supportive of other writers like me. I’ve grown and prospered under their guidance. I’m forever grateful to them.
As far as genre, that is a great question. I’m still trying to figure that out. I had mostly written serious, fiction, and non-fiction until I joined the writers group. But hearing what the others were writing, I became interested in the different ways that each woman in the group have their own style and genre. They inspired me to write mystery, romance, articles, and more. But the one that surprised me the most was writing humor. I really admired the work of one of the authors in the group, Kathy C. She has a fantastic sense of humor that comes through in her writing. I challenged myself to try to write a humorous story. I never thought of myself as funny, but I’m writing it now, and I’m loving it! And sometimes people read it and laugh! I think some writers get stuck in one genre, and when the well of ideas runs dry, they think that’s it. I love to try new things, which leads me to your next question.
When did you start writing Flash Fiction?
Up until a few years ago, I had never heard of Flash Fiction. It’s been around for a long time and goes by a few different names. But it’s quite popular right now with people’s short attention span and less time to read. Flash fiction can be classified as little as 100 words or up to 1,500 words depending on the publications guidelines. My writer’s group is all about helping each other to get published as much as possible. So they are always sharing places to submit stories. Many of these publications are looking for short stories or flash. So that’s what I started writing. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. Especially for someone like me, who tends to be very wordy! I can write 5,000 words like nothing. Then I have to cut it down to make it fit the necessary word count. It’s a great way to discipline my writing and get down to the real story. I like it, but I would still love to write a novel someday. I have a few unfinished manuscripts collecting dust while waiting for me to get back to them.
Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Most of the time, I don’t know where my ideas come from. They appear in my mind when I’m working or busy with something else or even when I’m sleeping. I wake up with ideas a lot. My characters usually tell me exactly what they want me to write. I very seldom have any control over them. It works out well for me.
How long does it take you to write a story?
Well, that depends on the character and how fast they tell me the story! And if I try to argue with them. Truthfully, I tend to want to walk around with stories in my head. When I finally get my butt in the chair, I can write the first draft in a few hours. It takes me another day or two to fine tune it. Then I take it to my writer’s group, they mark it all up, and then I sit down with it again and get it right! I’ve done some longer stories, 10,000-15,000 words; they can take several days or weeks if I have to research some facts to finish the first draft. That’s the easy part. It’s the editing and fine-tuning that takes days on end. Then I have to set it aside and let it simmer for a while and go back to it with fresh eyes. I change something every time I reread one of my stories. At some point, I just have to give up and submit it. If it gets rejected, I play with it some more.
What is the most difficult thing about writing to you?
That’s funny; I was just asked that in a newspaper interview that I had with my coauthors Sharon Harmon and Kathy Chencharik. Off the cuff, Sharon said everything. Kathy and I said nothing. Thinking it over, I do agree with Sharon, it’s all hard; the time, the dedication, the rejection. But I love it so much that nothing about it is too difficult. So to me, it’s like breathing sometimes it can be hard to catch your breath, but I have to do it.
Who are your favorite authors?
I read a Lot. And I read many different genres and authors, both well-known and not known. I always support local authors such as J.A. McIntosh and Wendy Black Farley. Also, writers yet to be published, Palo Santo (remember that name!). I love the classics such as Les Miserable by Victor Hugo. Ken Follett’s books never disappoint. I like physiological thrillers like The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr or fantasy like George RR Martin. I wasn’t a Harry Potter fan, but I can’t get enough of the Coroman Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling.) But my favorite genre is historical fiction. I love the settings. I’ve read all of Sharon Kay Penman’s books. She is an excellent historian with a talent to bring to life the Kings and Queens of England, and the history of Wales and Scotland as though you are right there. To me, there is no better writer than Diana Gabaldon; her Outlander series blows me away. Each book is over 800 pages, and every word is a work of art.
On the other hand, I’ve read and loved every one of Charlene Harris, Dead series books. Some of my all-time favorite books are Life of Pi by Yann Martel and The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Caravans and The Drifters by James Mitchner changed my life. Some random books that just stole my heart are Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni, and If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss. The list is endless. I think I love to read as much as I love to write.
Do you have any advice for other writers who want to write flash fiction?
Do it. Flash fiction or even flash memoir is a great way to strengthen your writing skills, and it is popular. There are many magazines, print, and online publications that are looking for good flash fiction stories. Some publications pay or give you free books. It’s nice to get paid, and that is the ultimate goal, but if it’s all about the money, you can be disappointed. In the beginning, it’s about getting published and building up your resume so that you can get other things published. Then eventually you can make money at it.
Are you working on a new book?
Always. Yes, with my coauthors of Flash and the Can Number One, Kathy Chencharik, Sharon Harmon and Phyllis Cochran we are currently writing stories for Flash in the Can Number Two! We plan to publish early next year. We have had a blast writing, publishing, and marketing Flash in the Can Number One. Right now, we are taking a break from doing book events, but we will start again in the fall. We have met so many special people while promoting our book. It’s like the cherry on top of the sundae. Writing has brought so many good things into my life.
Diane Kane writes short stories and poetry. Her self-published children’s book, Brayden the Brave is featured at Boston Children’s Hospital to help families dealing with medical issues. She belongs to two writers groups and enjoys sharing the love of writing with others. Diane has been published in Goose River Anthology and is one of the co-producers and contributors of Time’s Reservoir, and Mountains and Meditations, Quabbin Quills Anthologies. Diane lives in a small rural town in Western Massachusetts and spends her summers on the rocky shores of Maine chasing her dreams of writing.
Follow Diane Kane on Facebook at PageofPossiblities and online at WriteofPossiblities.com