Getting into writing – an interview with Mark Budman of Vestal Review

Mark Budman was born in the former Soviet Union. His writing appeared in Five Points, PEN, American Scholar, Huffington Post, World Literature Today, Daily Science Fiction, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine (UK), McSweeney’s, Sonora Review, Another Chicago, Sou’wester, Southeast Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly,  Short Fiction (UK), and elsewhere. He is the publisher of the flash fiction magazine Vestal Review. His novel My Life at First Try was published by Counterpoint Press. He co-edited flash fiction anthologies from Ooligan Press and Persea Books/Norton.


What got you interested in writing?

When I was a toddler, back in the Soviet Union, my mother was reading Hiawatha, translated into Russian, to me and my brother. I was impressed.  If the Native Americans could write in Russian, why can’t I write in English? So I begin to write as soon as I learned the alphabet.

Tell us a little about your chosen genre.

I write mostly flash fiction. As I wrote in my bio, I read, write, edit, reject, and publish flash fiction.  In that order. Flash is attractive to me because it’s compressed and concise but still has all the elements of the “regular” story.

What are your happiest memories in your writing career?

When Counterpoint Press accepted my novel My Life at First Try. I was ecstatic.

How do you handle success and failure?

Not well. I get too excited for my own good and for the good of my writing career.

What makes you write when you’re exhausted and your fingers ache?

I just can’t stop writing. The desire to write overwhelms me. I must release it before I burst.

What is your advice to young and new writers?

Always try to publish. If you don’t publish, your work will die the horrible death. But, on the other hand, don’t rush. Edit, edit, edit (that’s right, at least three times). And chose your publisher carefully, and always follow their guidelines for submission. As the editors of Little Fiction stated, “Read them as if your submission depends on it.” If a guy like me who learned English as an adult can do it, so can you.

Are you a traditionalist or a digital? (paper or eBook)

Both. They cover different grounds.

Do you blog?

Sometimes, for example here.

Do you self-publish?

I used to be against that, but now it seems like a viable alternative to traditional publishing, especially if you can market yourself well.

If you have a publication or promotion – tell us.

Yes, my favorite book, My Life at First Try: A Novel, my novel-in-flashes.

My Life at First Try: A Novel by Mark Budman

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