Dan Gemmer--Second Place Winter 2012 Flash Fiction Contest Winner
Here's Dan's bio in his own words:
"I am married, have three grown children, one enigmatic Norwegian Forest cat, a beautiful native plant garden, and finally, lots of time on my hands since I retired from the Pennsylvania Protective Service Division of the Aging office. My interest in writing began while writing case notes for Protective Services, which tended to be concise and descriptive. I have only been writing fiction for about two months and really love the cathartic freedom this provides. Before my Protective Service days, I was an Army sergeant and served in combat with an infantry company in Vietnam for a year. I was also a store manager for several retail chains, all of which went out of business, which I consider a mere coincidence."
WOW: Congratulations, Dan, on your win! I read in your bio you have only been writing fiction for two months. That's amazing! What made you enter this flash fiction contest?
Dan: I loved the invitation on the WOW website to enter the flash fiction contest calling for "creativity, originality and light-hearted reads" and the enticement to "express yourself...have fun." This sounded like a great place to send a story. I also really liked some of the stories by past winners.
WOW: So glad to hear that you read our winners' past stories. It's always good to study the competition and other successful writers. So, why did you start writing fiction?
Dan: For the sheer, unadulterated joy of expressing myself. I have always loved to read, especially short stories; and I basically just decided to sit down at the computer one day and start writing. I think writing is sort of a compulsion, but not like the mountain climber who supposedly is driven to climb the mountain "because it's there." The writer writes because it's not there...yet.
WOW: Great point! What other fiction are you currently working on?
Dan: I have completed close to a dozen very eclectic stories since I completed "Guests." All of my stories are gently satirical, irreverent, and are intended to be humorous and meant to entertain and provide the reader with a loving look at quirky, everyday people, without being judgmental. These stories seem to come very easy and sort of write themselves. I am also working on a war story from my time in Vietnam, which is very difficult to write, due to all sorts of bad memories and conflicting emotions. This kind of writing is like rubbing the scab off the wound, but hopefully it will be worth it if I can honor a few soldiers by telling their stories.
WOW: Good luck to you with your Vietnam story. Sometimes painful writing turns out to be the most poignant. I like how you described your short stories as "satirical and. .. a loving look at quirky, everyday people." That definitely describes your award-winning flash fiction piece you wrote for us. Where did you get your idea for "Guests"?
Dan: The idea just popped into my head, while I was outside working in my garden. I stopped what I was doing and wrote the story in about ten minutes, with very little revision. All of my ideas pop into my head for no apparent rhyme or reason. A psychologist friend told me it had something to do with the subconscious, which he explained as being the opposite of rational thought, or something like that. Hey, who needs rational thought?!
WOW: Not writers! (smiles) You have a colorful career history. How has that helped you as a writer?
Dan: I've worked in all sorts of places: factories, army, sales, management, and on farms; and all of these jobs gave me great insight into the real struggle that everyday people face just to provide food for the family and make ends meet. I admire the people that get up in the morning to go to work every day and persevere and survive. These are the types of people that I love to write about. The only job I ever had that required writing was my last one at the Aging office. I wrote case notes every day, which really helped me to organize my thoughts and to write succinctly and descriptively.
WOW: Why do you think it is a good idea to enter contests?
Dan: For fun and for the challenge. Also, contests are great motivators to sit down and write: a devious enticement, a siren's song.
WOW: Thank you, Dan, for the insight into your writing world. We wish you the best of luck in your writing journey, and we hope that stories keep popping into your head!
Interview conducted by Margo L. Dill;
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