Fiction Kitchen Berlin is more than just a reservoir of beautiful flash fiction. We want to get to know the people behind the great work that comes our way, those stories that make it on our menu. Today we are opening the Kitchen to Wilson Koewing, who hails from Denver, Colorado. His work, Fall, appeared in the Kitchen in May 2020 and was also featured in our first bi-annual journal.
Hey Wilson, good to have you back with us in the Kitchen! Tell us, what new literary creations are you working on at the moment?
It’s great to be here! Thanks for taking the time. I’m always juggling different ideas for flash pieces and short stories. A lot of my process is simply waiting to see which stories speak to me on any given day. My focus lately, though, has been on three long gesticulating short stories I’m attempting to complete before year’s end. They are pieces that I hope will round out a short story collection I’m putting together to shop around in 2021.
These are strange days we are living through. Has the pandemic impacted your writing? If so, in what way?
I’ve actively been trying not to write about the pandemic, but there’s no denying that it creeps into my work. 2020, in general, has crept into my work more so than just the pandemic. The general unrest in The U.S., especially. What’s resulted has been a combination of pieces about isolation and rebellion like “Rock Wall” in Maudlin House, “Beach, Ball” in New World Writing and “Ash” in No Contact Magazine, or stories born of memories from pre-pandemic times like “Last Kiss” in JMWW, “Petrin Hill” in The Loch Raven Review or “Jaded” in Ghost Parachute.
You’ve been published in dozens of journals over the years. Tell us about your writing process.
I generally have ten to fifteen stories in rotation that I’m working on at any given time. Some are close to being finished and need a few rounds of meticulous editing, others are in that middle stage where I might have a rough first draft, but the story is definitely not finished, then I have a few that are out in no-man’s land waiting for a spark to get them going. Those might be a paragraph or two, half of a story that I haven’t figured out where it’s going, or just a couple sentences that remind me what the idea was in the first place. That’s the place where stories and ideas sometimes get abandoned. A lot of my writing time is spent editing works that are almost complete and waiting for inspiration to strike regarding those that need more attention. It’s a process that works for me because I’ve always got something to do and it keeps a sort of conveyor belt of stories going that are at different levels of completion. I cultivated this process out of a genuine fear of the blank page and to combat the sort of writer’s block that comes from trying to focus on only one project at a time.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I operate on two planes of thought when it comes to character names. If the character is extremely dynamic, the story is character driven and I can think of a name that strengthens the character, then I’ll go with unusual or unrealistic character names. If it’s a more plot driven story, I’m looking to pick character names that bring little to no attention to themselves, but that are at the same time not so common and boring that that brings attention to them. I name a lot of my male characters “Josh” for this reason. Josh lives in this perfect place for me where he could be interesting, but more than likely something interesting is going to happen to him.
How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?
This is a funny question. I’m hesitant to say that it has. I think people who know me would say that it hasn’t because I’m a very observational, which can come across as distant. Everyone I meet, every conversation I have, and every person in my life might become inspiration for something I’m writing about. This can obviously be problematic, and as a result I haven’t always had the easiest time cultivating friendships and relationships. With that said, my writing does offer me catharsis when I dredge up the emotional wreckage of my past. This has been especially true of CNF [Creative Non-Fiction], which I’ve transitioned into writing a lot of in the past year.
Ok, crazy question – If you could meet any character from one of your stories for a day, who would it be? And what would you do?
Great question. It’s a tough one. Can I pick two? If I picked two it would be Josh from “The Fox Trap” which was published in Five on the Fifth because he’s just genuinely hilarious even though he’s dealing with some serious existential conundrums. He and I would probably be hanging out in L.A. at some swanky cocktail bar way too early in the day trying to be seen, but also making fun of celebrities and the glitz and glamour of L.A.
The other is Kylie Irvine from “Mannequin” which was published in The Hunger. Kylie would be in prison because she was the accomplice to a string of murders committed by her late serial killer boyfriend, Brian, so I would probably be interviewing her, which would be fun because she would undoubtedly have something sarcastic and nihilistic to say about everything. I’d love to know what she thinks about 2020.
Ok, thank you Wilson for taking the time to talk to us. Just one last question: If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me. Another great question that I hope actually happens! Ever since I read “The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith and saw Anthony Minghella’s film adaptation, I’ve been enamoured with Italy. I was able to visit for the first time in 2018, and if I had the opportunity, I would totally steal Patricia Highsmith’s lifestyle of living on the Amalfi Coast writing novels that would almost certainly be inferior to hers.
Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. He received an MFA in creative writing from The Creative Writing Workshop at The University of New Orleans. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado. His work has recently appeared in Ghost Parachute, New World Writing, Maudlin House, Trampset, Bending Genres, No Contact Magazine, X-R-A-Y, JMWW and Fiction Kitchen Berlin. He tweets @WKoewing and his work can be found at www.wilsonkoewing.com13