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Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Second Place Flash Fiction Winner Natalie Hart Shares Her Experiences

Natalie Hart is our second place winner in the Fall 2013 Flash Fiction Contest. Her story "The Promise" is a haunting story about a woman's tumultous relationship with her alcoholic mother. Check out the story on this page.

Natalie is a Brit currently working in Northern Iraq. She lives and works with her colleagues, who are remarkably tolerant when she grinds coffee at 6am before her early morning writing sessions. Natalie has a BA in Arabic and Spanish from the University of Cambridge. She has always wanted to be a writer and is very lucky to have a boyfriend and best friend who are there to remind her of this if ever she forgets.

WOW: Congratulations on your 2nd place win. What a very emotional story. Where did you get the idea for "The Promise"?

Natalie: Thank you so much for the congratulations. It was very exciting for me to hear that my story had been placed! The story originally came about from a simple writing prompt on the theme of "unreliability". For me, the worst kind of unreliability I have experienced has been the result of the addiction of someone I love, so I decided to build on that. It was a difficult and emotional topic to write about and is something that I have started to do and abandoned on several occasions, so it means a lot to me that readers have found the piece touching.

WOW: The emotion definitely comes out in your piece. I'm so glad readers felt it too! What themes are you exploring in this short story?

Natalie: As I have mentioned above, this story was very much the product of a theme – the theme came before the characters or the plot in this case, which is unusual for me. In addition to the theme of unreliability, I would also like to think that the story touches on the themes of human fortitude and forgiveness. Additionally, I think the final part of the story suggests that perhaps the narrator is unreliable also; I have an interest in the way that behavioral patterns can be repeated across generations.

WOW: It is amazing that all of those themes are explored in under 750 words, but you do it! What makes you want to enter contests, such as WOW!'s?

Natalie: I like to have writing goals. Having a deadline definitely increases my productivity and makes sure I get things done. This is actually only the second writing competition I’ve entered though. I’m sure there will be more in the future!

WOW: Currently, you work in Northern Iraq, and you write before work. Tell us a bit about your day job and your writing routine.

Natalie: I work as a social and political researcher in the Kurdistan Region of  Iraq. It is a fascinating place to be, especially as Kurdistan is going through an intense period of change and development. I live and work in the same house as my colleagues, which can be a bit intense. Luckily for me, writing provides me a period of different head space each day, even when a change in physical space can be difficult. I usually get up at about 6am, stumble around trying to make coffee for a while, then write until about 8am. I work long hours, then go to the gym in the evening, so mornings are definitely my preferred writing time. As I mentioned, I find that deadlines help keep me committed to my writing, so I am often enrolled in online courses that have weekly writing assignments. I also really enjoy the community aspect of writing courses because it can be difficult to get out and meet people here.

WOW: Thank you for sharing that with us, and we are glad that you are finding some online communities of writers for support. What types of pieces are you currently working on?

Natalie: Despite having outlined my daily writing routine to you, I’m having a lull for a couple of weeks. I am going to be taking a Crossfit Level One trainer exam in June, so at the moment, I am using my free time in the morning to study. Although I’m not writing, I am still generating a lot of ideas, which I am writing down ready to delve into once the exam is over! At the moment I have a plot in mind that explores the experiences of two women during Operation Iraqi Freedom – one is the wife of an American soldier and the other is the wife of an Iraqi translator working with US forces, who are brought together through tragedy. I am keen to use my writing to explore experiences of conflict, not just among those on the frontline but also those who are affected indirectly, yet still sustain enduring (even if not physically obvious) wounds.

WOW: Good luck with your exam, and your ideas sound fascinating! What's next for you in your writing life?

Natalie: I would love to experiment more with different genres of writing, and I think that a master's in creative writing would be a great way to go about this, but the cost of further studies is a big worry for me. With or without further studies, I will definitely continue to write, to read and to share my work with others. The support of my boyfriend is invaluable in keeping me motivated when it comes to writing. As much as I love writing, I am sure everyone reading this website will agree that it can be a challenging, draining and frustrating thing to devote yourself to at times. I feel lucky to have someone there to remind me of my dream when the going gets tough. Moments of success, like this competition, certainly make it all worthwhile.

WOW: Thanks, Natalie! Keep your dream alive and we hope to hear of great success for you in the future.

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Blogger Renee Roberson said...

Congrats on your second place win, Natalie! "The Promise" is very powerful and I can so relate to its subject. Your job also sounds fascinating. Best of luck in all your future writing endeavors--you're off to a great start.

7:16 PM  

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