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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Interview with Madeline Mora-Summonte, Runner-Up

Madeline Mora-Summonte’s work has appeared in over 20 publications, including Highlights for Children, Storyhouse, and Every Day Fiction. She’s written poetry, personal essays and book reviews, but her first love is fiction in all its forms, from flash to novels. Every week, she attends a writing workshop where the talent and the creativity of the group continues to amaze her. The workshop, led by mystery author Blaize Clement, is where the seeds of this story took root. For the fifth consecutive year, Madeline is participating in November’s National Novel Writing Month. A four time winner, her goal this year is an extremely rough draft of a YA horror novel.

She lives with her husband/best friend in beautiful Sarasota where they don’t spend nearly enough time walking on the beach and collecting seashells as they’d like.

You can visit her website at

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest! The last paragraph of your story gives me goosebumps! It’s great! Where’d you get your idea or inspiration for this story?

Madeline: Thank you so much! What a wonderful compliment! This story emerged - almost whole - from a writing exercise. I attend a weekly writing workshop, led by mystery author Blaize Clement, where the group does semi-timed writing based on a given word or phrase. The one that triggered this story was “a disguise.” Who knew, right? But that’s the magic of writing.

WOW: I guess I should never underestimate the power of a simple writing exercise! NaNoWriMo, on the other hand, is not a simple exercise. I saw on your website that you participated in and completed NaNoWriMo for the past five years. That’s quite a feat! Does it get any easier each year you complete it? Do you have ideas before you start, or do you just dive in head first on November 1st?

Madeline: Let me just say first off that I LOVE NaNoWriMo. I look forward to it like a kid looks forward to Christmas. I pull out my NaNo t-shirts, wipe out my NaNo mug, display my NaNo postcards and other goodies. Even my husband gets into it, presenting me with a “good luck” card at the start and a “congratulations” one at the end!

Every year is different. I think I winged it a couple of times, but I prefer some level of preparation so I usually approach it with a particular project in mind, notes and brief character sketches at the ready. I do play with different genres. This year I tried a YA horror/mystery type of thing, and it was a lot of fun.

WOW: Have you used, or do you plan to use, any of the material from NaNoWriMo for your short stories/flash fiction?

Madeline: I don’t think so. Somewhere in my mind I have a dividing line - novels over here, short stories/flash over there. I have noticed, though, that while the novel ideas tend to stay put, the flash ideas like to cross over and settle down.

WOW: Have you considered writing a novel for publication? If yes, are you working on one now? If no, why not?

Madeline: I am in the process of revising a novel. I love writing flash fiction, but my ultimate goal is to be a novelist. I’ve lost count of the number of manuscripts banished to my closet. Some of those never made it out for submission - I knew they just weren’t good enough. Others came close to securing an agent - requests for partials and fulls kept coming. One ms (a NaNo novel!) actually managed to snag an agent - she wasn’t able to sell it, though, and after our contract was up, we amicably parted ways.

But I have learned something from every single one of those manuscripts and experiences, and I am a better writer for it today. It’s a process, and one I hope I don’t ever stop learning from and growing with.

WOW: Also on your website, I read how you started creating stories by dictating them to your mother. I got started as a writer by dictating stories to my parents, too. At the time, did writing down the stories make your nightmares more controllable? Do you find that writing now helps you organize and control your thoughts, too?

Madeline: If I remember correctly, it helped at the time. Now, though, some of the scariest things I come across are from stories and books!

I sometimes use my journal to unclutter my mind, but I don’t use fiction writing to organize my thoughts. If anything, that’s where I let it all out - the craziest, the scariest, the dumbest ideas -plop out on the paper.

WOW: It’s always a great feeling to let it all out! What do you hope to accomplish next in your writing career?

Madeline: You know that feeling you get when you read a great story or a wonderful book? How you can’t wait to tell people about it, how you can’t wait for someone you know to read it so you can discuss it? I’ve had that experience many times and, for a reader, there’s nothing like it. That’s what I want to do. I want to give that feeling to other readers, just like it was, and still is, given to me, by so many great writers.

Click this link to read Madeline’s award winning entry. For more information on Madeline and her writing, you can visit her website.

Last week to enter the Winter '09 Flash fiction Contest with Guest Judge Literary Agent Janet Reid! Visit the Contest Page.

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