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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Interview with Evelyn Addison Ray, WOW! Summer ’09 Contest Runner Up

Evelyn’s Bio:

Evelyn Addison Ray, retired from training and development and community education, has written job materials as a matter of course in all her career, but never fiction. Now, having written two short stories for WOW!, she is proud and delighted to be in the finalists and motivated to continue to write short fiction. She earned a B.A. in Journalism and English and an M.A. in Education Leadership. She and her husband, Gary Holloway, live in Foley, Alabama and are avid travelers.

If you haven’t read her entry, please check it out here, then come back and settle in for our chat with Evelyn.

Interview by Jill Earl

WOW: First of all, welcome to you, Evelyn! How does it feel to be a runner-up in our Summer ’09 contest?

Evelyn: Motivated, absolutely motivated! Of course, I was excited to think that I might have an opportunity to write, and, with humility, I am very proud.

WOW: And you should be, your story was wonderful! Please tell us what was the inspiration behind your story and its title.

Evelyn: In the Seventies, I lived in a large, two-story older home and, then, needed to be extremely thrifty. As a result, I learned to shop at yard sales and estate sales. In that neighborhood, many of the residents were elderly and many sales resulted from their having passed on or been forced to seek institutional care. I think this story started then.

WOW: It’s interesting the varied ways writers become inspired to write their stories, isn’t it? In reading yours, I appreciated its contemplative nature, especially how your character gravitated towards memorabilia such as photos, cards and letters of the estate sales she haunted. What made you take this direction in your piece, as opposed to having her attracted to other antiques?

Evelyn: I believe that for many of us, those whose mark on the world is not evident in visible works or buildings or things, our stories are told in such detritus or remnants. I have often seen boxes of photos in antique stores and at estate sales and wondered how it is possible they are no longer important to anyone. Once, I was at an estate sale and only when I read discarded letters and postcards, did I know that the estate had belonged to a former teacher at my high school. The box of cards and letters told me more about her than any of the furniture being sold.

WOW: I’ve often found myself drawn to the same items when at yard sales and the one estate sale I’ve attended---for the same reasons you’ve mentioned. Reading through this material can stretch the imagination, and serve as a good source of inspiration.

Let’s move to your writing routine. Have you established one, and if so, what’s it like?

Evelyn: Unfortunately, it is very erratic now and one of my 2010 goals is to set a routine and stick to it.

WOW: I think that’s a goal that many of your peers share with you, so you’re not alone! Now, in choosing the writing path, did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

Evelyn: Yes. I always wanted to write, but believed that my niche would be journalism, particularly news features and editorial writing.

WOW: In your bio, you formerly worked in community education and training & development. How did you make the transition from more technically-oriented writing to fiction writing?

Evelyn: I never considered fiction because I did not see myself as creative. When I retired, WOW gave me the opportunity to take a shot at fiction and get some feedback to test my perceptions of myself.

WOW: We’re glad that WOW! was able to help you explore your creative side, Evelyn, and that it paid off for you!

How about your reading preferences, do you have a favorite writer?

Evelyn: Not one, but many favorites. Among the contemporary writers, I read and re-read are Pat Conroy, Amy Tan, Rick Bragg, and P.D. James. ‘Hall of Fame’ writers for me are Ayn Rand, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Isabel Allende. and on and on. I love to listen to books on tape, as well are read the written word.

WOW: That’s quite a list there, Evelyn! I see we have similar tastes. I think being well-read contributes to making a writer more well-rounded in their work.

Your bio also mentions that you and your husband are avid travelers. What are some of the places you’ve visited and have those experiences found their way into your stories yet?

Evelyn: We are foremost now U.S. travelers, with a couple Caribbean cruises during the year. In the past, we typically vacationed in a major city such as Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Bar Harbor, Seattle and Key West. However, we now have begun volunteering twice a year as park hosts for state and national parks, traveling in an RV and living the immersion travel story. By volunteering, usually two to three months each place, we provide services for three days a week and travel locally the other days. We go home in between. Because my experience is limited in fiction writing to three attempts, travel experience has surfaced only briefly, primarily with regard to referencing a road and city.

WOW: You’re really well-traveled and your work as volunteer park hosts sounds fascinating! We wouldn’t be surprised if you eventually tackled travel writing and some of your experiences found their way into your work! Do you have any projects in the works and can you share some details with us?

Evelyn: Other goals are to participate in some of the writing courses offered, for example, by WOW, and to look for a local writers’ group for writing conversation and feedback when we are not travelling.

WOW: Wonderful! Glad to see that you’re planning to take advantage of WOW! course offerings and hope that you’ll find a writer’s group soon.

One last question, Evelyn. What advice do you have for our aspiring writers?

Evelyn: Be confident. Just write whatever comes to mind and then do the hard work of determining if it has promise. Edit, edit, edit and find someone or some source for feedback.

WOW: Such wise advice for writers of all levels and duly noted! Evelyn, it was a pleasure chatting with you today and best of luck in your writing endevours!

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