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Tuesday, August 04, 2015

 

Interview with Barbara Brockway, Third-Place Winner in WOW’s Winter 2015 Flash Fiction Contest

Today we’re talking with Barbara Brockway, third-place winner in our Winter 2015 contest. Please take a moment to enjoy her winning story, A Cup Half Full.

Barbara Brockway has had short stories and essays published in The Southern Tablet, Torrid Literature Journal, an upcoming issue of The Maine Review and elsewhere. She has received writing awards from the Chattahoochee Valley Writers and Atlanta Writers Club and is currently working on her second novel, while seeking an agent for the first. She lives in midtown Atlanta with her family, two chickens and an orange feral cat named Lt. Musgraves.

For more information on Barbara, visit her website at barbarabrockway.com.


WOW: Hello Barbara, congratulations on placing in our Winter 2015 contest!

Many writers have a story about how they finally came to embrace writing as more than just a hobby; what is your story?

Barbara: I always described writing as my passion but I could carve out very little time for it. A couple of years ago, I decided to step back from one of my two part time jobs. I loved the work, but it was very demanding and causing a lot of stress for both my family and me. I know not everyone has the option to do so, but it was the best decision I ever made. It freed me up to seriously pursue writing as a profession, rather than just the occasional distraction I squeezed in here or there. I still work at my other part time job, but now I can devote the other half of my workday to writing and marketing myself as a writer. I haven’t replaced the lost income, but more flexibility has allowed me to save money in other areas of our budget, and the increased happiness is priceless.

WOW: In reviewing some of your work, it seems relationships are a recurring theme. In what ways have your own relationships changed as a result of your inner writer’s observations?

Barbara: I’d like to think writing has made me a better listener, and I know it has made me a more careful conversationalist. Just like in dialogue in a story, once those words are out in the air, there’s no taking them back. I’ve really made an effort to listen to, respond to, not interrupt, not lecture my teenage daughter. I’d like to think that being more observant has strengthened my relationship with her as we navigate the treacherous waters of the mother/daughter dynamic. I hope all of my friends realize I would never use something personal they’ve told me in a story, but anything I observe out in public by strangers is fair game!

WOW: We’d love to hear more about your two novels, will you tell us about them?

Barbara: My first novel, Bentleyville, channels the secrets that always swirl around small towns. The main character, Heather, is a senior in high school who’s been hip checked off her top-dog pedestal by the new girl in school. When Heather catches her own father and new-girl Juliana together late one night, all hell breaks loose.

With an eighteen-year-old protagonist humorously trying to find her footing in the adult world, Bentleyville is contemporary YA with crossover appeal - sort of The Fault in Our Stars meets A Grown Up Kind of Pretty.

My second novel’s working title is Bootcamp. It’s about the fireworks that ensue when a group of injured soldiers straight out of Walter Reed try to shape up a bunch of overweight kids at an inner-city community center. The center’s director and creator of this groundbreaking program has a lot on the line: her job, the center’s future and the well-being of the community she serves. Of course, there’s an evil politician trying to cut funding, unwanted media attention, a sassy friend and a love story. Frankly, I’m having a blast writing it.

WOW: They sound like a lot of fun! As someone who has finished her first novel, what advice can you share with those who are still struggling?

Barbara: I try to follow the advice of many successful writers and write nearly every day. Even if I can only set aside 30 minutes, that keeps the process moving and keeps my head in the story. Really, I’m such a beginning writer, I don’t think I should be giving advice!

WOW: Hey, you’ve made it though the editing process and have at least one full and complete story—congratulations!

My final question isn’t about writing…as a cat person I have to ask, does Lt. Musgraves have a nickname? Somehow I can’t imagine you calling, “here Musy, Musy.”

Barbara: Actually, I call him Musty! My daughter named him after the very talented singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves. My family refers to him as my “boyfriend,” as they roll their eyes, because I fuss over him so much. He’ll stare adoringly at me through the window ‘till I go out and pet him. He’s a real lovebug,…sigh.

WOW: Awww… Thank you, Barbara, for sharing with us today! We look forward to reading your novels, and maybe even seeing you back here again!

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