Meet Flash Fiction First Place Winner, Angela Lee Morel
BIO: Angela Lee Morel grew up in the Midwest and resides there still. She’s married to a wonderful guy, has two beautiful children, and two dogs.
Always an avid reader, she decided on a whim to try her hand at writing a few months ago—and discovered that she couldn’t get enough of it! Since then she’s quit her day job as a drafter to become a full-time writer . . . no, not really, but it’s now become a dream of hers. Writing, she’s found, has released her inner creative person that’s been screaming to get out. She loves to squeeze in time when she can (between working and soccer/football/basketball games and practices) to sit alone at her computer, challenging herself to find the perfect way to put to words the stories and ideas that are constantly circling around her imagination, and giving voice to the characters born there.
She’s written a handful of short stories and has about half of her first novel roughly complete. It’s a rather violent and gritty YA novel in a post-apocalyptic setting (think Lord of the Flies meets The Stand meets The Walking Dead) and deals with strong but damaged main characters that thrive and even find joy in the nightmare that has become their world.
She’d like to thank WOW! and feels honored to have placed in this contest.
interview by Marcia Peterson
WOW: Congratulations on your first place win in our Winter 2013 Flash Fiction competition! After reading your entry, it’s hard to believe that you haven’t been writing for very long. What inspired you to enter the contest?
Angela: Thank you very much!
What inspired me to enter the contest was my need to know if I had any type of storytelling abilities. It’s hard to determine if you truly have a knack when the only audience reading your work is close family members. I could probably write my grocery list down and show it to my ever-encouraging mom and she’d tell me how much she enjoyed it and how talented I am.
WOW: At least your mom is so supportive! But it is validating to receive positive feedback from a professional source. Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, Grace?
Angela: Unfortunately, the idea behind the story came from my family history. I have two aunts currently afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common cause of dementia, and my grandma died from it almost fifteen years ago. It’s such a tragic disease, robbing people of their loved ones and stealing away the precious memories and reasoning of those tormented by it.
Grace developed in my mind when I thought about how my mom comforted my grandma during the last few days of her life, and how my grandma called her “Mama” during that time, right up until she passed. It made me realize that no matter what condition our mind is in when death is near, perhaps we have the ability to see the person we miss the most, the person we lost sometime in our past that left a hole in our very existence. Maybe we see what we need to see, so that we are not afraid.
WOW: Your story touches on these issues beautifully. Being a new writer, how did you approach crafting a flash fiction story? Did you have to edit much to get to the final version?
Angela: Being a new writer, I thought it would be good to get my feet wet by taking a flash fiction story from beginning to end. So I wrote a couple of them. I filled them with metaphors and adverbs and all other types of nonsense. I realized that was the wrong way to write. What it actually did was clutter it up--a sensory overload if you will--and the story fell flat. So, I put those aside and wrote Grace. I focused on basic emotions and the story itself instead of trying to get too creative. It came out smooth and more relatable, I think.
I find that I spend quite a bit of time editing. I’ll write the first draft rather quickly, and then I’ll pick at it, tweak it here and there, until each sentence “feels” right to me. The problem I have is that I never stop editing. I can think I’m done, set the story or paragraph or chapter aside and move on, only to come back to it and pick, pick, pick. I can’t simply read my work like I read books. I find myself reading a sentence and thinking if I use this word instead of that word it sounds better. It can be frustrating.
WOW: As a busy parent with kids involved in various sports, where do you fit in writing time? Any favorite habits or routines that transition you into creative mode?
Angela: I try to write at night or on weekend mornings before the kids get up. That can be tough though, and I’ve found that days can go by without me being able to write at all. For the most part I need it to be quiet to allow my mind to wander and to focus on what I’m trying to write. I’ve converted a spare bedroom into my office, so maybe that’ll help.
Nah, the kids still find me…
WOW: They always do! You mentioned that you’re an avid reader, as many writers are. Tell us about an author who has inspired you.
Angela: I read all types of fiction- from my all-time favorite Stephen King to Khaled Hosseini to everything in-between. I have poetry books that I’ll grab from my shelves and read. However, about five years ago I began reading Urban Fantasy series books. I’ve always been intrigued by paranormal and dark subjects, and also strong women who can take care of themselves. So this was a perfect fit.
My favorite is Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series. The protagonist is such a likeable, yet messed up character. I love characters that are damaged but strong and make mistakes and bad choices like everybody else. Anyway, lately I’ve been visiting Stacia Kane’s website and following her blog. She seems like such a regular (and funny!) person that has kids, like me, and had written on her blog about when she first started out. For some reason, reading about that made me think that perhaps I should give this thing a try, keep going on my novel. So I am.
WOW: Sounds like an interesting to blog to check out. Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Angela! Before you go, can you share your favorite writing tip or advice with our readers?
Angela: Have a little notebook handy for those times when an idea pops into your head, and you think, oh I’ll remember that, and then it’s gone without you even realizing it. Jot it down in the notebook--you’ll be thankful that you did.
Our Summer 2013 contest is OPEN!
For details, visit the contest page.