Flash of Inspiration: The Player by Louis Gallo

Photo by Markus Grossalber from Flickr
Photo by Markus Grossalber from Flickr

Our Flash of Inspiration this month is ‘The Player’ by Louis Gallo a dark and complex story with many psychological layers.

A short story can grab your attention for any number of reasons. The lyricism of the language, the vividness of the setting, the voice of the character.

Sometimes though, it is the subject matter itself which gives you a jolt – a little shockwave of excitement or unease that keeps you reading.

In the case of ‘The Player’ I fell for the intense wiring of the language, lined up against stunningly naked portraits.

When I first read this piece I immediately felt alert, tense, curious, invited to reread, to guess, to be bounced about like a pinball on a fast glittery ride.

The story is hard-hitting, painful, we are all caught up in this game. It’s a story I don’t think I could tire of rereading. Each time the raw ending opens a nerve. The questions are intentionally playful – it’s hard to approach a writer in a way that might show readers the grit behind a great flash piece, how does one nail it? I was curious about ‘The Player’ so I felt I had to ask.


 Interview With Louis Gallo

Cat Who was the reader you had in mind for this story?

Louis I had a general audience in mind, no particular gender, race, creed or whatever.

Cat What were you doing when your best ever idea came to you?

Louis Generally, my ideas come to me in a flash when I least expect them to, often when I am having what I think of as writer’s block. Sometimes a single word or memory image triggers the story or poem. I was remembering playing the old wooden pinball machines and smashing that idea into a tale of woe told to me by a woman.

Cat Are your ideas generated/borrowed/stolen?

Louis Not sure what this means, my ideas are self-generated. T.S. Eliot said great poets steal, they don’t borrow. I am definitely influenced by the work of others, but I hope against hope I haven’t stolen or borrowed.

Cat What do you do with an unconvincing piece of work? Rework/recycle/reject?

Louis I usually try to re-work. If the piece is hopeless, I trash it. I have a giant boxful of trashed pieces . . . so, in the end, I suppose they are not trashed after all. Just waiting.

Cat Who do you admire in spades?

Louis I have no idea what this question means. Is this a rock group, a band, a deck of cards?

Cat Urban or rural? Domestic or exotic? Language or plot? First, second or third person?

Louis I am urban, born and raised in New Orleans. But setting of “The Player” is meant as a smaller, say, college town. I go for language first, plot last. Usually I work in first person but often third as well, sometimes second. I believe all work is autobiographical. Therefore, first person comes naturally.

Cat What’s the best or worst rejection you’ve ever received?

Louis Well, I have had many exceptional rejections. The worst was an editor who snapped, “Poetry is serious business.” That was long ago, but it still burns. I have also received glowing praises for varied works that were rejected for one reason or another.

Cat What are your cardinal rules for writing flash fiction? How often do you bend them yourself?

Louis To finish it at ONE sitting. This is crucial for tone, character, for everything. Then go back and copy-edit after a week or two. Not sure what you mean by “blend.”