Interview with Sudha Balagopal

Vestal Review: Sudha Balagopal; nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and featured in the 2019 Wigleaf Top 50. What’s the secret to your success?

Sudha Balagopal: Oh, my goodness, success is such a big word. And, when you pair it with the word secret, “success” becomes esoteric. All I can say is—I love to write and I hope that love transmits itself through the stories I create. And when these themes, these situations I illustrate, resonate with the reader, that’s all the success I can ask for as a writer.

VR: Your story “When Your 82-Year-Old Dad Says He’s in Love” was selected by our guest editor (now first reader), David Galef, and was just published in Vestal Review. Can tell us what inspired this story?

SB: I’m honored and thrilled that David Galef selected my story for this issue. Thank you, David.  Many of my friends have aging parents in assisted-living or senior living situations. One of them mentioned an unusual yet strong attachment between two of the residents. It got me thinking about what makes relationships appropriate or inappropriate, and how we apply our standards of propriety to every age group, as if the need for connection and feeling also fades as we age.

VR: Why do you write?

SB: I write because I must, because I always have, because I always will.

VR: Why have you concentrated on flash fiction for the last few years of your writing career?

SB: My path to flash has been a little unusual: I went from big to small. I wrote longer short stories for years, eventually getting two short story collections published. After that, I wrote my novel, “A New Dawn,” published in 2016 by Laurel Highlands Publishing. It was at this point that I stumbled upon flash in an online writer’s forum. The moment I read the first piece, I knew we were meant to be together, flash and I. The immediacy, the way flash gets into the heart of the story, the way the story lingers in your mind, everything about flash captured me. Three years later, I remain fascinated, and today, I write flash fiction exclusively.

VR: What do you hope to achieve through your stories?

SB: There is a famous Hindi saying, Sahitya samaj ka darpan hai, which roughly translates — literature is like a reflection (or image) of society. I remember having to write an essay on the topic in high school Hindi class. If I can in any small measure, through my flash fiction, offer images of the times we live in, of the people, of the situations we find ourselves in, I am grateful.

VR: What are your hopes and ambitions?

SB: I’d love to get a flash collection published, to try my hand at a flash novella, to attend a writing residency, to go on a writing retreat someday… the list is long. The common theme, as you can see, is to keep writing!

The interview conducted by Gillian Walker and Kevin White

The link to Sudha’s story.