December 10, 2020 by The Citron Review
(Thirty West, 2020)
Jules Archer’s Little Feasts is one of my favorite books this year and in a year where all my thoughts and feelings were either really gigantic or stuck in the tiniest of minutiae, this book of flash fiction was a perfect fit for my pandemic reading. Each marinaded little morsel served up a freefall into the everyday terrors of life. It’s dark, it’s dangerous, and it’s funny. And most definitely worth re-reading. Jules Archer’s flash and microfiction makes me want to write more complete small stories, lean into the tension of each moment and master the turn from what behaviors or situations we may be willing to accept to those we should stop accepting in an awful hurry.
JR Walsh: You write characters that have such vulnerable swagger. There’s a duality at the heart of characters that I wonder about. It’s reflected in the tone of the stories too. You can be so funny while traipsing straight into tragedy. Tell us a little about your characters especially in Little Feasts. And is this gang different here than the characters you’ve discovered since?
Jules Archer: Yeah, I think the characters in this collection all run in the same, weird circles. I feel like the characters I’ve written since have a little bit more hope or light than these semi-doomed characters. Not sure why. But either way, I love the collection of characters in this story. All females, all a little twisted in some way. We need more weird women in fiction, so that’s what I hoped to bring in this collection.
JR: I find your sentences wonderfully clear with pitch-perfect diction. You don’t describe too much rather selecting careful details to clarify place and moment. (“Stabs runny yolks” comes to mind.) Is there a difference between this flash fiction work and your forthcoming novels?
Jules: I’m not super big on pages and pages of description. Reading The Grapes of Wrath in grade school made me want to launch myself into the sun. So, I do think that’s why I gravitate toward flash, why it works for my writing style. The novels I’m currently writing definitely deviate from flash, but that’s okay too. There’s more description, more said, but not at the Grapes of Wrath level.
JR: Let’s talk about genre fiction’s influence on the literary. I read that you were writing romance, you’ve explored the world of YA, and there are deep shades of horror in Little Feasts that would delight Shirley Jackson. How has “fine art of the serial killers” or other art/cinema/literature of specific genres influenced your work?
Jules: Hmmm. I’ve always enjoyed horror and murder and serial killers and all dark stuff like ghosts and the paranormal, so I think that no matter what I write, those elements find their way in somehow. One of my favorite things in horror movies is when a comedic/silly song is played over a brutal murder, and that’s what I think I aim to get to in my stories.
JR: Tell us about the book design. That tentacled, ventricled heart! So beautiful. How did you and Thirty West choose?
Jules: Oh my gosh, I credit the amazing Carolyn Brandt for her design. I always knew I wanted a pink book cover, so when I talked to her, I told her that. We had a nice conversation and I mentioned something about food or dinner and monsters, and she came back with three gorgeous tentacled covers. Thirty West is also great about letting their authors have a big say in their covers, and when we saw Carolyn’s it was an easy and unanimous choice.
JR: Can you recommend a book/story movie/episodic series song/album? The slashes can be either/or/or/and… it’s your call completely. These don’t have to be favorites of all time… just like: I think you need this now recommendations!)
Jules: I think every horror/short story fan should read Entropy in Bloom by Jeremy Robert Johnson. I will sing this book’s praises every damn time. Also, the TV show Fleabag and the webtoon webcomic Lore Olympus.
JR: I have a lot of authors that I want to read, but I’m only slowly discovering them for myself. Is there one writer that you keep hoping to read (in depth) that is on your pile/virtual pile of To Be Read books?
Jules: Ugh, you should see my pile of TBR books. Depressing and thrilling all at once. I have so many, but I just added Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Allam because I keep hearing great things. And I really want to get into Sad Janet by Lucie Britsch. Reading has been slow going during this pandemic – at least lit fic, but I do hope to get back into it soon.
Here’s Jules Archer’s microfiction for The Citron Review, Not a Formal Diagnosis.
Jules Archer is the author of the chapbook, All the Ghosts We’ve Always Had (Thirty West Publishing, 2018) and the short story collection, Little Feasts (Thirty West Publishing, 2020). Her writing has appeared in various journals, including SmokeLong Quarterly, Pank, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. Her story “From the Slumbarave Hotel on Broadway” appeared in Best Microfiction 2020. She lives in Arizona and looks for monsters in strange places.
JR Walsh is the Online Editor at The Citron Review. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University, where he now teaches English as a Second Language. His writing is in beloved publications such as New World Writing, Litro, Juked, NUNUM, Hobart, FRiGG, Blink-Ink, Bull, B O D Y, and Esquire. For more: itsjrwalsh.com.