Audra Kerr Brown: Igniting a Fire for Flash Fiction

Audra Kerr Brown

Audra Kerr Brown keeps her stories short—very short. A writer of flash fiction, Kerr Brown has a knack for offering up a striking image, a memorable turn of phrase, and a sense of setting steeped in atmosphere that seems wholly infused with meaning. The stories in her chapbook collection, hush hush hush, may (of necessity) be short on plot, but they are long on mood and moment.

Kerr Brown, who lives in rural Iowa, is the former managing editor of New Flash Fiction Review and founder of the YouTube channel The Flashtronauts! She answered questions via email.

Flash fiction is obviously important to you as an editor, content creator, and author. What appeals to you about the form?

Flash fiction is easy to define (they are stories of 1,000 words or less) but difficult to describe. I love the intensity. The brevity. The language. I love what flash can be, what flash can do. It’s flexible, it’s shape-shifting. It’s the rebellious love child between poetry and the short story. Good flash fiction is like a match: the strike, the flare. It’s over quickly but will stay with you, will linger, will hang in the rafters of your mind like smoke.

What was the spark that got you started as a writer? Have you always wanted to write?

I’ve always been a reader. Always been a fan of storytelling of every kind—movies, music, theater, dance—but in the fourth grade, I was chosen to attend a Young Writers Conference at Iowa Wesleyan which allowed me to see that writing could be pursued, that writing and storytelling were just as important as any other career. My love of stories felt validated. So, yes, I’ve always wanted to tell stories, to be a writer. I’ve had my starts and stops, of course, but I’m glad that I’ve stayed with the writing. I’m also glad the writing has stayed with me.

Your bio says you live “at the end of a dirt road in Iowa.” Do you think of yourself as an Iowa writer in general or a rural Iowa writer in particular? If so, what does being an Iowa writer mean to you?

Yes, I do see myself as an Iowa writer, specifically a rural Iowa writer. I like to put that in my bio so that young writers in this area can see that it’s possible to live in rural Iowa and write. And be published! Growing up, I didn’t know anyone personally who wrote fiction. Aside from the Young Writers Conference, I didn’t meet any writers until I went to college. So it’s very important for me to describe myself as a rural Iowa writer.

As far as my writing is concerned, I would say it’s Midwestern Gothic. There used to be a literary magazine by that name, and I’ve adopted the term as my own. I don’t necessarily set all my flashes in Iowa, but it’s there—the humid corn sweat, the stench of hog confinements, the oppressive gray winter skies—haunting the background of my stories like a welcomed ghost.

What are you working on now?

I’m always tinkering on anywhere between 10 to 20 flashes at a time. I’m a very slow writer, and I like to switch up from day to day. I think this helps me to see my work more objectively, when it has time to cool off before I look at it again. I also have a middle-grade novel and a full-length stage play in the works. Trying to branch out in other forms, but flash fiction is my comfort zone, so we’ll see.

Flash Fiction Resources

Inspired to try your hand at flash fiction? Audra Kerr Brown recommends these flash fiction anthologies: The Best Small Fictions (series) and Best Microfiction (series). You can find these flash fiction literary magazines online: Milk Candy Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Flashback Fiction, Wigleaf, 100 Word Story. Check out these flash fiction craft books: Going Short by Nancy Stohlman and The Art of Brevity by Grant Faulkner.