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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

 

Interview with Winter 2017 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up, Danielle Dreger

Danielle Dreger is a librarian and writer in Seattle. Her flash fiction has appeared in Pinch Journal, Cleaver Magazine, The Dime Show Review, 200 cc’s and The Driftless Review. She’s a contributor to Preemie Babies 101 and her essays have appeared in The Creative Truth Journal and Mom.me. Her first YA novel, Secret Heart, was published in October 2016. When she’s not working or writing, Danielle is traveling with her husband and toddler. Follow her on Twitter @danielledregerb or at danielledreger.com. Check out her emotional winning entry, "Tourism for Broken Hearts," here.

interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Welcome, Danielle! Your bio says that by day you are a teen librarian, and I also noticed you have written an essay titled "What Librarians Wish Patrons Knew." Please share some of those tips with a fellow library lover--just in case I'm doing something wrong :-)

Danielle: I'm currently the Teen Services Coordinator for Sno-Isle Libraries in Marysville, WA. One of the best tips I have for library users is, if you don't see the book you want on the shelf (or in the catalog), ask the librarian to order it! Libraries rely on recommendations, especially when it comes to books by indie authors and small presses. If they don't have the funds to purchase it, they can always ask another library system to mail the book! Another tip: people forget that libraries offer more than free books and movies. Many libraries now have access to streaming services like Freegal or Hoopla for brand new music and TV shows, offer cutting edge programs like ukulele lessons or home brewing talks, and have online resources to help entrepreneurs start small businesses, teach travelers new languages, and provide free practice tests for SATs, ACTs, and professional exams.

WOW: I love it, and so true. Libraries are such great resources. Now on to your writing. By reading "Tourism for Broken Hearts" and the plots of some of your WIPs for children and teens, it's obvious music plays a huge role in your life. Who are some of the musicians you can't live without?

Danielle: My taste in music often changes with what I'm working on, but I've been a longtime fan of Tegan and Sara, Sleater-Kinney, and Arcade Fire. Often I'll hear a song on Pandora or Spotify that sends me down a musical rabbit hole and the next thing I know I'm singing along to a song by The Strokes or Lisa Loeb that I haven't heard in 10 years. And my household is currently obsessed with the Hamilton Soundtrack and the Hamilton Mixtape. I have a feeling the next YA novel I work on will be influenced my a musical theater soundtrack.

WOW: You released your YA novel "Secret Heart" in fall of last year and describe it as "A teenage Kissing Jessica Stein with a Dawson’s Creek vibe set to a soundtrack of Sleater-Kinney, Tegan and Sara, and Taylor Swift." What was the inspiration behind the novel?

Danielle: I had the first spark of an idea for Secret Heart at a Tegan and Sara show in September 2012. They'd just released their song "Closer" and it struck me. I was working on something else one night and Avery's voice came into my head and I wrote what later became a key scene set at a GSA meeting. Avery was so funny and raw and I found that once I started writing, I couldn't stop and I wrote the very first draft of Secret Heart during NaNoWriMo 2012. A lot of the music Avery listened to was music I was into either as a teenager or what I'd recently discovered.

WOW: When those characters pop into our heads it's hard to get rid of them, isn't it? As far as flash fiction, there is an impressive list of published short stories listed on your website. I encourage our readers to check out "Bulletproof Breasts" if they are in need of a smile. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Danielle: Flash fiction is my first love. Many of my stories take place abroad and are inspired by people or situations I've encountered while traveling. I spent a day in Zagreb about 4 years ago on my way from Split, Croatia to Libijana, Slovenia and went to the Museum of Broken Relationships. Seeing those artifacts of heartbreak stuck with me and a few years later "Tourism for Broken Hearts" was born. "Bulletproof Breasts" is a riff on the fake meet-cute story I share when strangers ask how I met my husband (we met online). Plus, I always wanted to foil a robbery! And of course I get a lot of inspiration for flash fiction from writing prompts and contests.

WOW: Your son was born a micro preemie and you are a contributor to the Preemie Babies 101 blog. How did this experience shape your views of motherhood?

Danielle: So many friends warned me that nothing would prepare me for motherhood, and there was definitely nothing that prepared me for a baby born at 27-weeks who spent hist first 6 1/2 months in a hospital. To be honest, I didn't even feel like a real mother at first. I was only allowed to hold him for a couple of hours a day. I'd be consulted, but hospital staff made all the decisions about how much he should eat and what he should be doing. I was sidelined those first few months and it wasn't until I finally brought him home (still on a feeding tube) that I felt like I was finally a mother. I think that after you experience something as traumatic as nearly losing your child, you look at everything differently. I thought I'd be more of a helicopter mom after his rough start, but I find that I'm much more easygoing than I expected. Maybe because he was isolated for so long I actively seek out new ways for him to experience the world. I want him to be fearless. He travels internationally with my husband and I does surprisingly well. And I love that I can contribute to Preemie Babies 101 and share my experiences with other preemie parents.

WOW: Thank you so much Danielle! I know our readers will enjoy learning more about what inspires your work. 

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