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Saturday, April 21, 2007

 

Interview with Stephanie Haefner - Runner Up!

Stephanie Haefner's short story, A Faded Oasis, is such a treat. We love stories that transport us to familiar, yet undiscovered places -- it's like receiving a mini-vacation!

We had a chance to chat with Stephanie and find out what she's been up to, the inspiration behind the story, and what she's working on right now. She's quite a dynamo! She's written two books, runs her own business, is a mom, and still finds time to write.

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WOW: Stephanie, congratulations on being in the top ten! That's quite an accomplishment. What inspired you to write, A Faded Oasis?

Stephanie: I love visiting old places and imagining what it was like before time took its toll. We've visited Philadelphia, Boston, Salem, landmarks of our country, and I can easily imagine the people living their day to day lives in the infancy stages of our country. When I read the prompt for the story, my first thought was a girl jetting off and having a hellish (and hilarious) time at this run down resort. As the story evolved, it became a sentimental story about two people who obviously love what they'd done for years.

WOW: That's what we loved about your story. We also enjoyed your description. We could smell the cocoa butter, see the tattered resort, and the tanned old couple. What impressed us was how you ended the story, giving the couple a gift back. I can't imagine a better ending! But this wasn't what you intended when you set out?

Stephanie: I had originally planned on making the story a funny one, focusing on all the things that went wrong, broken mirrors and furniture in the room, maybe a rat or two, dry-rotted beach chairs, etc.... As I wrote the story and added the owners of the resort as characters, the story really evolved into a tale about the love they had for what they did for a living. These girls were their only guests and they were going to take care of them as best they could. As my main character envisioned what the resort was like in it's heyday, she realized how much this couple needed her and all she saw was the gorgeous sight before her. Nothing else mattered.

WOW: Did you do a lot of editing to get the word count down?

Stephanie: Oh yes!! Originally it was almost double the length. I had to edit out most of the funny stuff, but actually once I came to the ending, I didn't need it all anyway!

WOW: Isn't that great how that works out? The word count really tightens the story. In your bio you mentioned that you have 2 completed novels! Are you still working on them, or are you in the submission process?

Stephanie: Novel #1 is finished and sitting on the shelf. I submitted to over 40 agents with only a tiny request for the first 5 pages of the MS. I learned my query was really awful, so when I finished novel #2, I made sure I my query sparkled. It has so far done it's job pretty well..... getting 2 agents to ask for partials, 1 asked for the full manuscript, and the same agent from the first novel asked for the first 5 pages. Unfortunately, I received rejections from 3 of them....the one with the full has not gotten back to me....but I just emailed that to her yesterday. I still have tons of queries out there, waiting to hear back from about 22 more agents.

WOW: That's exciting! We wish you the best! In your opinion, do you think having an agent is necessary?

Stephanie: Oh yes! I've tried to learn what I can about how the publishing business works, but I feel it would be in my best interest to have someone who is 100% on my side when it comes to contract negotiations!

WOW: Most definitely. So tell us... how do you find time to write, take care of your little girl, be a wife, and run a floral design business?

Stephanie: Well, winter is my off season, so not too much going on that time of year with weddings...at least not in Buffalo anyway!! Our nice weather doesn't start until May, so neither does wedding season!! I steal whatever time I can during the day, but get my most productive writing done at night when husband and daughter are in bed! I'm a total night owl! I am planning on getting a laptop soon so my writing can come with me wherever I go!

WOW: That's next on my list as well. :-) Stephanie, you've had another flash fiction piece published in an anthology. What is the appeal of flash fiction to you?

Stephanie: Sometimes I find it hard to keep things short, seeing as I write novels, but I like writing little pieces that are a small snippet of life that can bring a smile to someones face.

WOW: As a novel writer, you must be an avid reader. Who are your favorite authors?

Stephanie: I love Ann Brashares and Judy Blume.....I compare my first novel to Summer Sisters. I guess I am a sucker for a coming of age story!

WOW: I grew up on Judy Blume! She guided me through many coming of age situations. So, in closing, how has entering the WOW! Flash Fiction Contest been for you?

Stephanie: I loved the experience! It was my first real publication (the anthology won't be out until Spring 08). I feel so incredibly lucky to be among such talented writers and can't believe I was chosen to be among them! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity!!!!

WOW: We thank you too! And please let us know when the anthology comes out; I'd love to read it!

Click to read Stephanie Haefner's story A Faded Oasis.

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