Interviewed by Rachel Wild

Read Jamy Bond’s fiction piece, Morphine

Rachel: I really admire the brevity of this piece. What is interesting to you about the flash fiction form?

Jamy: I resisted flash for a long time. I got caught up in the frame of mind that one should always be working on longer manuscripts. Longer meant bigger, better, more serious. Flash was for writers without stamina. I was SO wrong. Flash is a beautiful, experimental, powerful form that requires skill, courage, and the willingness to think and write outside of the box. I love the power that brevity and precision can give a flash piece. I love how lyricism and rhythm can enhance its resonance. I love the complex play of nuance required. For me, the best flash fiction contains the basic story elements, including narrative arc, in a tight, skillfully constructed space. Because the space is so limited, every element, every word, takes on urgency, meaning, depth. The flash world is rich with brilliant and talented writers right now. If you aren’t reading and writing flash, you’re missing out.

Writing about death is difficult to pull off. What inspired you to write this piece?

Like all of my stories, this one started with a seed of truth and quickly grew into fiction. Death has always been something I’m drawn to as a writer, maybe because I’ve seen my fair share of it, or maybe because I’ve experienced some of the worst grief there is. I don’t know. I wish I could write happy, funny, feel-good stories. Those stories definitely require talent and skill and the good ones deserve recognition and readership. But when I sit down to write, I always gravitate to the biggest, darkest subjects of the day. It’s what makes me burn as a writer, and if I resisted that flame I don’t think I’d be very good.

The ending of the story is unexpected. What made you conclude it like this?

I never know the ending of a piece until I get to it, and by that time, it’s glaring at me. That’s exactly what happened here. Like all of my stories, this one went through dozens and dozens of drafts. Usually, when I’m on, say, draft 47, the ending will finally pop up and I’ll think, oh wow, there it is, of course. It seems so obvious by then. But to get there I had to follow the many twists and turns of the revision process, whittling down and refining the entire way, draft after draft after draft.

Each sister in “Morphine” has a unique and complicated history with her dying father. He was an abusive father who showed them no mercy when they were weak and vulnerable children. Now, the tables are turned. The narrator (and Ruth as the narrator sees it) struggles with how to reconcile the humanity her present situation requires with the humanity her father failed to show her as a child. For me, it all comes together in the final line.

This year has been like no other, in terms of domestic and global events. Do you think it has affected the subject matter you are writing about in any way?

I’ve always written about dark subjects, but I do think the mood of the past year has given me more courage to write about the things I’m drawn to. I haven’t once felt self-conscious about the subjects I choose.