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Congratulations!  Your short story was selected as a Runner Up in the 2016 Haunted Waters Press Short Shorts Competition!  What inspired you to write "Wild Turkeys?" 

  1. I’m perplexed by the seemingly indelible connections between culture, spirituality, and personhood—essentially, the baggage of our upbringings. In this story, “we” realizes people can learn and change, despite societal constraints. However, growth is painful, and I chose a metaphor to depict that personal struggle.

What other forms and genres do you enjoy writing?

  1. I like to dig into the gravelly details of realistic stories. I think honest, intricate details can be revelatory, if rendered well, but I’m still working on that skill. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with speculative fiction—wacky dream lore, inverted fairy tales, visceral ghost stories.

Where do you find your ideas and inspiration?

  1. Most of the time, I write about what bothers me most—I write the story that pecks at my mind. Sometimes, though, I just write to write, to see the words on the page, to see what my subconscious brings forth. Both forms of inspiration can yield interesting work. When I get stuck, I look for off-the-wall prompts to loosen up my writing process again.

How long have you been writing?

  1. I’ve always dreamed of being a writer, but I only started writing earnestly, with organized intent, in the past five years or so. I regret the lost time, but maybe I wasn’t ready to write until I was ready to write.

What is your writing day like?

  1. Lately, I write on my laptop at my kitchen table. I drink a lot of decaf coffee and play strange music in the background. I pull out my hair and read passages aloud to myself. Sometimes I go to a café and do all this in public, too. If people stare, I don’t notice.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?

  1. Many, too many, but if I had to pick one right now, I’d say Lydia Davis. Sometimes, the shorter the story, the fewer words on the page, the better the story, especially if the words are as well-chosen as Lydia’s. Someone once told me that a sentence couldn’t be a story, but Lydia Davis can make single sentences sing epic tales.

What are you reading right now?

  1. I just finished Randa Jarrar’s new story collection called Him, Me, Muhammed Ali. Those stories enriched and enlarged my world. I’ll read them again, and soon.

What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?

  1. Sadly, I have no personal motto. For me, a motto is too much like a label, which is too much like a bumper sticker. We are all so wonderfully complex.

Where can we find other works from Courtney Harler? 

  1. So far, Northwest Boulevard, Neon Dreams, The Vignette Review, Blue Monday Review, and Chicago Literati. Forthcoming soon, Palaver and Sierra Nevada Review.

What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon?

  1. I want to finish my short story collection, but I’m trying to be patient. I have a lot of revision to do yet. However, I do have an idea for a novel about the life of a girl born into a religious cult, and I’m eager to start that project, too.

If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?

  1. Read.

Courtney Harler is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College. She also holds an MA in English Literature from Eastern Washington University. Her work has appeared in Northwest Boulevard, Neon Dreams, The Vignette Review, Blue Monday Review, and Chicago Literati. Raised in Kentucky, Courtney now lives, writes, and teaches in Las Vegas.


Penny Fiction

Flash Fiction Writing Competition 2016: