This summer, Andy Sinclair’s new story “Daytime Fun” will appear in the eighth issue of Dragnet, the two-year-old, Toronto-based online magazine that specializes in fiction under 1,000 words. Andy is no stranger to the ultra-short story; “Daytime Fun” marks his third appearance in Dragnet alone. I had a chance recently to talk to Andy about his first, “I Know How to Get Free Shit,” which you can (and should!) read in the inaugural issue, here, (Page 26).
BWS: A lot of new writers are advised to start out by sending stories way under a publication’s word limit. Was “I Know How to Get Free Shit” your first published story?
Andy: No. Back in 2004 and 2005 I published some stories in fab magazine’s literary issues and did a reading at Fly one night. I met George K. Ilsley there — the author of Random Acts of Hatred, which is an amazing sexy and truthful and daring short story collection. We talked about the story I’d read, (“Crossed Lines”), and it was helpful that this author seemed to be engaged in my writing.
BWS: And what happened next?
Andy: I kept at it sporadically and I was in the literary section of a shop called Mags & Fags in Ottawa when I came across a magazine called The Moose & Pussy. I remember on the cover there was a grainy black and white image of a hairy dude in an old lumberjack vest that was quite compelling. I liked the frankness of the content. They accepted some of my stories and when Jeremy Hanson-Finger (who had been on the editorial team at The Moose & Pussy) and his crew started up Dragnet they contacted me as a potential contributor.
BWS: When I asked you for an excerpt to share with the Brockton Writers Series blog, you suggested “I Know How to Get Free Shit.” What makes this story different from others you’ve published?
Andy: This story was different for me because the setting came first. I was walking around downtown Edmonton on a blistery winter night and I got inspired and went back to my hotel room and wrote out a first draft quickly.
BWS: What does usually come first, when you sit down to write a story?
Andy: A feeling! Or a phrase that captures a feeling. Sometimes a sentence repeating itself in my head turns out to be the last line of the story.
BWS: Do you feel a special connection to, or reason for writing, “short-short” or “flash” fiction?
Andy: I do. It just seems to be a format that allows for an attempt at keeping the kernel of a feeling throughout. A short story can be very pure with a strong tone unfettered by too many details. I know there is a longstanding sentiment that it is just a developmental step on the way to writing a novel but I think that is changing. A short story delivers a different gift than a novel.
BWS: I can’t help but ask, as a fellow short story writer, what you make of the question, Are you working on anything longer? Like a novel? And worse: I want to ask you that very question. Are you committed solely to the short story? Do you do longer work as well? And what are you working on these days?
Andy: I am not committed by ideology to the short story but it seems to be the most natural way to share for me. I have been reading some philosophy texts and having some wonderful jnana yoga discussions and I would like to write about that discovery process. I have pages and pages of notes that I always think I will use but I find a first draft usually happens quickly without a lot of cross-referencing, so most of the notes are getting old! This year I have been working on becoming a yoga teacher at The Yoga Sanctuary. If all goes well I will be certified May 5th so the reading on May 8th will be part of a celebratory week. I attended a yoga and writing workshop run by Sarah Selecky and Ronit Jinich a few years ago and that was very helpful in showing me how to create creative spaces.
BWS: Looking forward to celebrating with you, Andy, thanks for taking the time.
Andy Sinclair visits the Brockton Writers Series May 8, 2013 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (7pm, PWYC) – along with Mahlikah Awe:ri, Elizabeth Ruth and Moez Surani.
Watch this space for more with each of our readers in the month leading up to the event!