Interview with Miles White

What exactly is the Canvas Sextet?
It's a collection of three minute flash fiction stories. I compare a sheet of paper to an artist's canvas, so each story I imagine and tell has to hold to that one page, which works out to around 800 words give or take.That's my canvas. Now doing that is not entirely new, but I decided to write 300 stories with that restriction and do it in two years. That's not as easy as it sounds. I'm publishing them in six volumes of 50 stories each. I wrote Jesus Loves You But Not Today, Download the Moon, and just published the third collection Zen Pussy Riot all this year (2014) so I'm halfway there.
Can you do literary quality writing at that length?
Of course. That's not new either. Hemingway did a lot of that, but since 2000 flash fiction has really exploded. There are anthologies, books, even literary journals devoted to it. It's not everyone's cup of tea but many people love it and it's getting bigger. And yes there is a lot of good writing out there at this length, which typically tops off at 1,000 words. I'd like to think mine stands up to anything out there, and I wrote 150 stories this year. That might be a record, if anybody keeps records for that.
What do you write about?
I'm all over the place as long as it's realism. I have never been much into reading science fiction or fantasy. Vampires, fairies, shape shifters, werewolves, not my territory. Same with horror. I love to watch those kinds of movies but I don't like to read it and I don't try to write it. I also don't try to write detective stories or thrillers, but that still leaves a lot of territory. I don't know what to call it other than human drama. There are some love stories. There's a lot of personal trauma and tragedy. People get killed. People kill themselves. Bad things happen to people for no good reason. It's about things that can and do happen to people trapped in this thing called life.
What is your writing process?
Most of the time my stories come pretty much fully formed in my head. At least I know what the story is about and sometimes I know how it is going to end. Sometimes minor details change, but the basic story just comes to me. I may think about it for a few days, but eventually I just sit down and write it. I may edit it a little after that and work with refining the language, but I see the story and I hear the people talking to each other. I just write down what I see and hear.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner. Up until that time I had only read comic books. A Rose was my first experience with literature, and Faulkner's writing hypnotized me. Still does. I have read all his books. My favorite is Absalom! Absalom! Still a masterpiece of American fiction, maybe the best novel any American has ever written. Faulkner made me want to become a writer. I learned how to really write from reading, mostly him.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Absalom! Absalom! because it is the greatest American novel ever written in my opinion.
The Sound and the Fury. It is a sly masterpiece of innovation and experimental writing that still tells a powerful story.
Light in August. A dark, compelling, fascinating story that will haunt you for days.
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. A masterpiece of contemporary style that created the legal thriller.
Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Woolfe. It is a passionate, lyrically written book by a genius. Another masterpiece.

I have to mention The Homewood Trilogy by John Edgar Wideman. My writing style changed after reading those books.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read flash fiction because that is as much as my attention span can handle these days, but to be frank I do not find a lot of flash fiction writing to be very interesting to me, so I like re-reading my own stories, which of course, helps to keep me writing more of them. My stories are real stories that do not try to get literature with a capital "L" get in the way of telling a good yarn, but I do love my own writing style. I think its very musical.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
They all have different features. I don't have a favorite.
Describe your desk
cluttered.
What are you working on next?
Volume 4 of the Canvas Sextet series. Right now the title is My River Runs to You. It's from a song I heard on an airplane. Then I found out it was adapted from a poem by Emily Dickinson. I have changed the title two times. I may keep this one. I hope it will be ready by Spring of 2015. It will be 50 stories about love and loss.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I did not get picked up by an agent. I was not willing to wait to publish.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The writing itself. And I like editing my stories. It's like making love to your lover.
What do your fans mean to you?
Writers need fans. Writers would still write, even without fans, but who doesn't want people to read what they have written?
Who are your favorite authors?
William Faulkner
John Edgar Wideman
Toni Morrison
James Baldwin
Scott Turow
James Joyce
Thomas Woolf
James Ellroy
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Who says I get out of bed each day?
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Looking out the window. If I have it around, I play the saxophone.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No, but I don't remember the last story I wrote either.
Why are they not available in paper?
Because I have not gotten a print publishing offer yet. Eventually I think that's going to happen, but really I had the e-reader market in mind when I conceived these stories. If you're traveling you can read a few of these and not have to commit to a novel or big book that you might not have time to finish. They fit perfectly on mobile devices, so that's what these stories are made for. I'm struggling to get the publicity, marketing and distribution out there, but it's happening. I'm in the Apple bookstore and the other Smashwords e-book retailers. I'm on Amazon, I contribute to some online sites like Readwave and Flash Fiction Magazine, and I've gotten stories in a couple literary journals - Bookends Review and the Tahoma Literary Journal. That's a lot in one year.
So three new collections in 2015
That's the plan. We'll see. I write in spurts, but I think once I catch my breath, sure, I can get it done.
Published 2014-08-12.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Zen Pussy Riot
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 39,100. Language: English. Published: July 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » American / General, Essay » Literature
Zen Pussy Riot is the third volume of The Canvas Sextet series of three-minute short stories by Miles White. The 50 provocative, insightful, darkly comic and often tragic stories in the new collection – a follow up to Jesus Loves You But Not Today and Download the Moon – are bold, eclectic, sumptuously diverse and compellingly engaging, playing on the edges of the profane and the profound.
Download the Moon
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 39,040. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » American / General, Essay » Literature
Download the Moon is the second volume of the Canvas Sextet series, a collection of six volumes of 50 original literary short stories, each story told in a single page – no more than what can be written on one standard blank page in Word – 12-point, single spaced, Times Roman, equivalent to a single sheet of typewriter paper.
Jesus Loves You But Not Today
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 39,070. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » American / General, Essay » Literature
Jesus Loves You But Not Today is the first volume in the Canvas Sextet series of contemporary literary fiction comprised of single page stories that are darkly comic, tragic, and often hilarious, covering a diverse range of themes and situations that take place mostly in the United States.