Interview with Michael Throne: Winner of the Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest
Mike Throne lives in North Virginia with his wife and three daughters. A graduate of Goshen College, Mike spent twenty-five years building a wind chime company from a one man show to a factory that sells wind chimes to thousands of stores across the country. In 2006, Mike sold the business to begin working on his new passion, fiction writing. He has been learning his new craft through a course at Northern Virginia Community College, a supportive writers’ group, and Faithwriters.com, a Christian-based online writers’ resource. Mike feels that writing is his calling. Other stories written by Mike can be seen on Mike's profile at Faithwriters.com. Mike is currently working on a book of interrelated short stories, and when he’s not writing, he enjoys camping with his family.
If you haven't done so already, read Mike's award-winning story "Stress Fracture" and then return here for a conversation with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing first in the WOW! Spring 2011 Flash Fiction Contest! Where did you get your inspiration for your story, “Stress Fracture”?
Mike: The inspiration for "Stress Fracture" came from the Faithwriters.com prompt, "Outlandish." I had an easy enough time coming up with a woman who was dressing outlandishly, but then I had to figure out why. Once I decided that she was covering bruises from abuse, I took it the next step by giving her a British persona, which she used to deflect attention from the more obvious reasons for her excessive makeup and concealing clothes.
I do have to say that Faithwriters has been quite helpful in my attempt to develop my writing skills. The "Weekly Challenge" has been a good resource in that it helps me discipline myself to write regularly, almost every week, and the feedback is always encouraging. Having my stories ranked among the hundred or so others gives me a good sense of what seems to be working and where I fall short. Also, because there are several exceptional writers who contribute, I learn simply by reading their work. It is, at times, quite humbling.
WOW: That’s great that you’ve found a writing community that’s been so helpful and nourishing for you and your writing! When did you realize you wanted to be a fiction writer?
Mike: I have always enjoyed writing, and when I was young I thought that I might write for a living. During and after college, I worked hard at prose and poetry, but didn't feel my work was strong enough to continue.
After I sold my small business several years ago, I wanted to try writing fiction. I found it to be a calling, something that I felt led to do, though I'm not sure why. I have found fiction writing to be difficult, and frustrating to the point of actually wanting to give up on numerous occasions, but then something good happens (like this WOW contest) and I am encouraged to continue.
WOW: It can be a daunting process, but winning contests is definitely a motivator! Glad we could help. What do you like best about fiction writing?
Mike: What I enjoy most about writing is when, after many hours and multiple rewrites, a story finally comes together. There is always room for improvement, always, but sometimes the stories just work.
"Stress Fracture" was one that worked, but after I had submitted it to Faithwriters and shown it to some friends, I began to have doubts. No one seemed to get it. I tend to be too subtle, so I put in a few more clues and changed a bit, but it still didn't seem to be working for folks. After I submitted it to WOW, I put it away, convinced that it was just another story that wasn't quite good enough and resolved to do better.
Of course, I was thrilled and frankly, shocked, when it won both contests.
WOW: I also love that feeling when all of your hard work pays off and you feel like the story just works. If you could have dinner with one writer, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
Mike: An author that I would enjoy meeting is Dean Koontz. His stories are imaginative, his descriptions are wonderful, and he holds my attention. My favorite short story is "In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried" by Amy Hempel, and having dinner with her or say, Hemmingway, Salinger, Tolkien or CS Lewis would be great, but almost certainly, quite superficial. (Belonging to a writers' group with them, on the other hand, would be amazing.)
The writer I would most like to meet is the apostle Paul. Not all of his books and letters are literary masterpieces, but 1 Corinthians 13 is a beautiful blend of truth and eloquence.
WOW: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Mike: The best piece of writing advice I've received is to try to create tension in every scene. There are other good ones - make your characters round, write for your audience, and if no one gets your story, it's probably not their fault. My own personal addition: don't write with music playing because everything seems better with a sound track.
WOW: Ha Ha, that’s great! Thanks for the advice, Mike! We wish you continued pleasure and success with your writing.
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt