A NEW POP LIT Q & A WITH A MULTI-TALENTED YOUNG WRITER
TODAY’S POP QUIZ IS WITH UP-AND-COMING WRITER FRAN-CLAIRE KENNEY.
1.) What characterizes the perfect short story?
FK: I’m tempted to just say that the perfect short story is as short as possible, but that leaves little room for character development; it really depends on why you’re reading in general at that point–do you want an exhilarating experience or a meditative one, or maybe both? The thing that works in any scenario, though, and that keeps a reader engaged, is strong imagery and lines of symbolism that jump out at the reader, because those are the things that stick as quotes which will recur into the reader’s consciousness for a long time. It’s also great (but by no means a necessity–nothing is really a necessity in literature except words) when a short story has a fable-like mood or structure, because those stories stick like the pieces of imagery and function almost like bedtime or cocktail stories to the reader who stumbles back into reality.
2.) What style of short fiction would attract masses of young readers to the art?
FK: I think that for GenZ folks, who have come of age during a time of sociopolitical conflict, dystopia and sci-fi are very promising. Everything around the world has been happening so fast in the last decade–political power shifts, technological innovations, social movements–that many young people don’t know what to expect, yet have grown accustomed to abrupt change. It’s intriguing to contemplate the relationship between humans and rebelling AI or life in an everlasting cyclone because these things are becoming more and more plausible, and reading about them in short stories allows so much room for speculation and, dare I say it, preparation. (Plus, there’s plenty of room for gore and horror, which everybody loves at least a little too much.)
3.) How do you see your future as a writer?
FK: The short answer: varied. I will always write poetry as a means of self-expression and catharsis–and with an abundance of clever and diverse literary magazines out there, I will always edit those catharsis parties into something thoughtful and even publishable. I’d like to be an editor as well, to work directly with fellow writers to improve the delivery of their messages. I’m also entering the world of film in college–not just screenwriting, but also directing, cinematography, production design–there are endless opportunities. Having goals as a literary writer-editor and as a film writer-director may seem like a conflict of interest, but I truly believe that some stories are meant to be told on paper, while others are meant to be told onscreen, and I want to convey both as a writer. Literature and film are a) beautiful, and b) do not have to be at a cultural war with each other–I seek to live that truth in my future.
NOW listen to two NPL recordings of Ms. Kenney reading her work, here and here.