I am thrilled that my story "Lost Hills" won the Prime Number Magazine Flash Fiction contest for April.
It's another of my stories inspired by places, such as “I Used To,” (set at a shell shop in Morro Bay), and “Secret San Francisco,” (set at the San Francisco wave organ).
As part of the publication, they asked me to talk about how I came to write it, and I contributed the following:
Last year, my husband and I were traveling from an event in the North Coast of California down to see his parents in Southern California for Thanksgiving, driving almost the length of the state. We decided to stop partway, in Lost Hills. The drive to the town was nightmarish: we took a scenic route that wasn’t very scenic and added more time than we expected, we hit traffic, and I was getting over a cold. We arrived late and exhausted. We checked into the highest-rated hotel in Lost Hills, a Motel 6, and with only fast food to choose from, ate at Taco Bell. By bedtime, my husband wasn’t feeling well, and in the morning he woke up sick, having caught my cold. Because he was miserable, instead of continuing, we drove home, where I cobbled together a lonely and untraditional Thanksgiving dinner. I’m often inspired to write by setting. I’m sure my experience colored my perceptions of Lost Hills, but in my memory, the town reeked of diesel, disappointment, and desperation. I wrote a story that fit that mood.
I don't have any pictures of Lost Hills to add to this listing, so instead I'll post a picture of the Thanksgiving dinner we had instead: black bean and sweet potato casserole, kale, cranberry corn muffins.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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