What was the genesis for “The Five Deaths of Marvin Dimitri”?
Marvin Dimitri is inspired by a family friend who has been declared dead about four times. Most of the deaths in the story are his: He went missing in Vietnam, died on the operating table, wandered back to work after they found his wrecked car. And you wouldn’t believe the paperwork involved! Banks just aren’t equipped to reopen a “dead” person’s account. It just doesn’t happen. Except to this guy. I packaged it as fantasy so people would find it believable.
What were some of the challenges in writing a two-page short story?
Because this story was drawn from real life, it was practically already written. Once I had the voice, the rest flowed.
I’ve spent a good part of my career writing 100-word capsules to 500-word articles, so the length comes naturally. Even my novels have short chapters.
In flash fiction, you only have time to write about one thing, so the hard part is boiling your story down to that one thing it’s ultimately about.
Have you considered using the same approach to a short story as you did for your Google poem?
How did you know about my Google poem? By way of explanation, I took a poem I wrote that is somewhat abstract and open to interpretation. I then took the top Google image result I got from searching on each word and phrase in the poem, and flash them on the screen over my narration.
I am currently working on an app to do this “live,” so the results are always current. The images let us interpret the poem in a different way.
I don’t think it would work with fiction, because you can’t keep the images up long enough to draw anything from them.
Longer explanation: I’ve also run a video series and am collaborating on a Digital Dada Festival that focuses on art that wouldn’t be possible without new technology.
We have all these new mediums, much like when the first moving pictures popped up in turn of the previous century, and we’re looking for the Cecil B. DeMilles at the turn of this century who find the potential for art.
It goes beyond Google poetry to new ways to tell stories, as well—so I guess I could do something with Dimitri!
Any other projects coming up that you want to tell us about?
I did some editing on These Are The Voyages that’s just been released. I am not joking when I say it is the definitive nonfiction work on the original Star Trek series, based on interviews and all the internal studio memos and various drafts of each episode.
I also have two stories in the dystopian anthology Tuned To A Dead Channel by Dagda Publishing, which raises money for charity.
I always have stuff in the works—I’m working on a script to be produced as a short film, I’m shopping some novels, and I am currently in negotiations with a publisher to put out a collection of short stories, we’re just not sure what form it will take. So it’s always something.
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