[James R. Gapinski]: So I have to ask the central question: what does innovative fiction actually mean? It seems like some cheesy buzzword, but can we define innovative fiction?
[Lindsay Hunter]: I think innovative fiction is something that surprises its readers. You know that feeling you get when you’re reading something and you think, “Man, I could never do this.” And then you think, “Man, I’m gonna go sit down right now and try to do that, or try to write something that makes me feel like reading that made me feel.” That’s innovative. It generates a chain of inspiration and creation.
[JRG]: When you’re writing a piece like “Don’t Kiss Me,” do you begin with the intentional goal of doing something formally unconventional, or is that something that just happens organically as you write?
[LH]: It’s very organic for me. I sit down and write the first line knocking around in my head, and then I write the next one and the next one. It’s all about the voice, the word selection that nourishes that voice. I don’t think, “Okay, I gotta write something truly f*cked up, GIDDY UP HUNTER, LET’S DO IT.” I think, “Hmm I wanna write about a woman who’s obsessed with another woman at work.” I think it’s unconventional because I’m trying to reveal something in these marginalized, sometimes hyper-real characters that I love so much. I’m trying to unveil some humanity whenever I can.
[JRG]: You’re judging our short fiction contest. I’m sure those interested in submitting are itching to know: are there specific things you look for in a great piece of innovative writing?
[LH]: I always find myself looking for an interesting turn of phrase. A quickness, a deftness between word and image. Something that makes me jealous! I’m also a sucker for anything that makes me feel nostalgic – either the character’s nostalgia or something sparked inside me.
[JRG]: Could you share some authors or books that you find particularly risky or innovative?
[LH]: Gutshot by Amelia Gray is like an opus of innovation. I think it’s perfect. Catherine Lacey’s Nobody is Ever Missing is another one. And Maryse Meijer’s forthcoming Heartbreaker burns it ALL down. Full disclosure, we all have the same editor. But that editor is a master of seeking out innovative, weird stuff!