Interview with Rose Thoman, Fall 2013 Flash Fiction Contest, Runner-Up
Rose Thoman lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing or busy chasing after her adorable preschoolers, she loves to get out and run in half-marathons. She taught elementary school for six years before deciding to stay home with her children. She is a member of SCBWI and has completed a middle-grade fantasy novel. She’s had two short stories published in on-line e-zines for children and received an Honorable Mention in last year’s WOW fall contest for her story, Triage.
If you haven’t done so already, check out Rose’s award-winning story “The Line,” and then return here for a conversation with the author.
WOW!: Congratulations on placing in WOW!’s Fall 2013 Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write this particular story?
Rose: This story was inspired by real life more than I’d like to admit! This past summer my mom and grandma both had cancer and my husband was injured at work. The doctor really did tell my grandma, “Well, we all gotta die sometime,” which isn't the most comforting thing to be told. It was a dark summer. And wine is good! So that was the inspiration. I thought about where is that line where having a glass of wine at the end of a bad day is fine, where does it cross over. I wanted to write a bit darker than I usual do, so I took the circumstances and exaggerated them.
WOW!: Thank you for sharing the behind-the-scenes aspect of your story. I find it so fascinating to hear about writers’ ideas and processes. In general, what is your writing process like?
Rose: I have a LOT of ideas but I don’t have a great writing schedule. I’ll blame my two, adorable young children for that. Deadlines help me to focus on the project that is due. I used to think it was funny when people would refer to writing as “a craft,” but it actually is one. I have to let myself spill out all of the ideas and then go back and clean them up. It’s frustrating when it doesn't look like what I want it to look like at first, but I have to remember that that’s the craft part, the going back and making it as close to what I want as possible.
WOW!: I agree with you – it is frustrating when rough drafts aren't as good as what was in my head! And as you said, that's where the "crafting" is helpful. In your bio, you mention that you run half-marathons. Do you notice any connection between your running and writing?
Rose: Great question! Yes, for sure. At first, running a half marathon seemed like such a huge thing, close to impossible. I signed up for my first one when my youngest was just over one year old, and my husband was injured again from work. It was something I could do for me that I had some control over. When I first returned to running, one mile was all I could do. I had to focus on each individual step at first, and then build up to several miles. Preparation was key. It’s planning, dedication, and hard work! If I want to run all 13.1 miles, I don’t get to take a bunch of time off during training. Just like if I want to complete a writing project I have to sit down and do it, one word at a time. The other nice thing about running is I can think about my writing while doing it. I can work out character problems or scene issues.
WOW!: Running makes an awesome metaphor for writing! Thank you for making that connection. If you could have dinner with any writer, dead or alive, who would you choose, and why?
Rose: This one is tough. I think right now, I’d go with Neil Gaiman. I like his style and his books, the ones I've read, anyway, are quite dark, and so well written.
WOW!: That’s always a tough question, but that’s a great answer. Are you working on any other writing projects right now?
Rose: I've got a backlog. It’s ridiculous, really. I’m trying to find a home for a middle grades fantasy novel that I completed last fall. It’s been rejected twice, so I figure I’m getting closer to Harry Potter status, right? I have two novels for adults that I've started. I have a chapter book for children that’s about 1/3 of the way complete, and then several other little things. I’m all over the place.
WOW!: You sound like you’re staying busy! Good luck with your writing projects. Anything else you’d like to add?
Rose: I’d like to thank WOW for putting on the contest. Also, I’d like to say to anyone who is working on their writing to keep trying. This is the fourth time I've entered, and with the great feedback from the critiques, I've been doing a little bit better each time. It’s great being in the top 10!
WOW!: Thank you for your thoughtful responses, Rose! Happy writing!
Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor.