Interview with Michelle Martinez - Summer '11 Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up
Michelle Martinez is currently a librarian at Sam Houston State University. She lives with her cat but isn’t a crazy cat-lady, merely crazy. Her dachshund is currently being hostage by her parents. Writing is her passion and her future, and so is her mafia-looking boyfriend in New Jersey.
If you haven't done so already, check out Michelle's award-winning story "Unbuckling Orion's Belt" and return here for a chat with the author.
WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Summer Flash Fiction Contest. How did you begin writing this story, or what was your inspiration for it?
Michelle: The images from the story started out when I thought of writing something about mythology or the stars, and the phrase "unbuckling Orion's belt" just came to me and I started writing. I typically write poetry when not working on the next great bestseller, and my writing uses mythology at its foundation and, often, core. "Unbuckling Orion's Belt" started over a year or two ago as a free-verse poem for an online writing class. I found it on my flash drive and began tweaking it, and turned it into a prose poem. When I showed this piece to my mentor, he suggested "Unbuckling Orion's Belt" would actually work well as flash fiction. As I worked on this piece, I made some changes for the flash fiction contest, editing out some lengthier parts and learning more about the mythology behind Orion, which included that his mother was an Amazonian warrior. Whether what I read was an accurate version of the Greek myth or not didn't matter to me, I appropriated it anyway because of my own Hispanic heritage and the desire to make the flash fiction more personal in a sense.
WOW!: I love to hear about the evolution and revision processes of a writer’s work. Thanks for sharing! What do you enjoy most about writing?
Michelle: Writing forces me to drop all baggage and worries, etc. and just focus on the words and their music. So for a time, I'm completely free, and I love that feeling.
WOW!: Yes, I often think of writing as a wonderful meditative process where everything else in life falls to the side. What are you reading right now, and how did you decide to read it?
Michelle: I'm reading "The Vices" by Lawrence Douglas. I'm a librarian at Sam Houston State University so I'm always looking at the "New Books" shelf where I came across this work of fiction. I actually ordered this book, along with the other fiction since I purchase for Literature, among other areas, but I forget what I order, so every time the new books come out I'm excited by some terrific titles. Honestly, I liked the look of the book--intriguing cover, manageable size, and the synopsis on the back sounded good.
WOW!: What a fun job, and a great way to keep up with the literature market! What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Michelle: "Quit tying your tail in knots, just write." There are many variations on this particular theme, but my boyfriend, a sci-fi/fantasy geek like me, told me to quit worrying and just write. It's a difficult thing to do, especially when you begin to think about publishing or winning a contest--you end up forgetting about the joy in the writing itself. When he said it, it really hit home because it wasn't advice from another writer or novelist or poet, but from someone who knows me so well and my tendencies to over-think things.
WOW!: That’s great advice. Writers can get so bogged down by the “business” of writing that they forget its joy. If you could have dinner with one author, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
Michelle: Nora Roberts. Though I don't typically read romance novels those that I have read by her I've enjoyed, nor read any of her mysteries, but she has written in 2 different genres, has a steady fan base, and manages to create new characters and situations each time. I want to know how to make my own living as an author, though in a different genre. I want to know how she manages to make herself write without her hating it, without it feeling like a burden or getting stressed over whether or not it's good enough, and how she keeps going.
WOW!: Michelle, thank you so much for your thoughtful responses! Best of luck and happy writing!
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt