Interview with Stephanie Haefner - Winter 08 Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Stephanie Haefner is an aspiring novelist dreaming of the day she'll see her name blazed across the cover of a book! She is currently working on novel #3. Her favorite types of stories to write (and read) are those that take the reader through every emotion. If she can make a reader cry on one page and laugh hysterically on another, her story is complete! Among several WOW! contests, her publishing credits also include an anthology about the city of Buffalo, NY, where she was born and raised and still lives today. When Stephanie is not writing, she spends her days caring for her husband, 5 year-old daughter and infant son and also tending to a serious scrapbooking obsession!

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read Stephanie’s story Have A Nice Day, go ahead and click on the title. Come on. You know you want to read it!

WOW: Welcome back, Stephanie. You're a multiple WOW! contest winner. Any secrets to offer readers who might be considering entering one of the WOW! contests?

Stephanie: Definitely go for it!!!! Especially with the open prompt!! Make your piece as descriptive as possible. I feel it's best to write about a very simple event, then use your words to describe it in as much detail as possible. Never ever has the phrase "show, don't tell" meant more!! Show as much as you can...make those 500 words count for so much more!!

WOW: Good advice! You definitely make the words matter in your story. What was the inspiration for Have A Nice Day?

Stephanie: It was actually a prompt for an online writing class I was taking at the time. There was a list of three objects. When I envisioned a plastic bag, an image of a ragged one blowing in the wind on a dark and dreary winter day popped into my head. I wondered why it was blowing, where it had been, what led it to it's current status. The story took from there.

WOW: I like the anticipation the bag feels prior to being "sacked" and how that theme of anticipation of the unknown traverses throughout the story. It builds a feeling of suspense. How do you determine the direction that roller coaster of emotions will travel when crafting a story?

Stephanie: When I write, I always like to take the reader through a range of emotions. I think about my own life, the feelings I've had, the ups and downs, the unknown. Everyone feels that way at one time or another. I think readers can really identify with a character, even an inanimate one, who has felt the way they did at one point in their lives. I don't think there's anyone on this earth who hasn't had fears about what the future holds for them.

WOW: Playing on the reader's emotions can create a powerful story. What else do you draw upon for inspiration for your writing?

Stephanie: Many things. My mind seems to wander a lot and starts to ask questions..."What would I do if this crazy situation happened to me?" Many of my completed fiction stories and story ideas that are waiting to be written are based on mini daydreams I've had at one time or another. It's the things I see and experience around me. I started traveling with a notepad in my purse. There have been times where I was stopped at a red light and pulled it out to jot things down! I get some of my best thinking done while I'm driving around town! As for non-fiction pieces, many are written about events taken directly from my past.

WOW: Drawing from personal experience enhances the direction a story takes. A tinge of irony always piques my interest. I sensed the use of irony in the title. What tips can you offer for titling a piece?

Stephanie: I struggle with titles very often. I love when a title gives the reader an idea of what the story could be about but then surprises them when there's a twist to what they originally thought. I love to surprise the reader!

WOW: Great idea! Being surprised gives readers a chance to contemplate the various aspects of the story. I see you spend a lot of time scrapbooking. To me, scrapbooking is a visual storytelling. Do you ever draw inspiration from any of your scrapbooking endeavors for a storyline?

Stephanie: Yes! I have many stories that are based on my own life and the twists and turns that could have happened! Usually my stories are a bit more dramatic than my real life, but that's the fun, isn't it?

WOW: Oh, most definitely! Building dramatic elements is vital for an effective storyline. What are some of the similarities in the creative process between scrapbooking and writing?

Stephanie: Scrapbooking to me is an art form, just like writing is. In scrapbooking, the storytelling is done with photos. The creator is showcasing a memory by arranging photos and adding artistic elements of color and design. With writing, words are arranged and the reader forms their own mental picture.

WOW: Stephanie, you are a very busy woman! What projects are you working on now?

Stephanie: I just finished yet another edit of my second novel and am trying my luck at finding an agent for it again! It is extremely hard for me to throw this story on a shelf and walk away! I am also about halfway through my third novel and have tons of little essay pieces I've been working on over the past few months.

WOW: Good luck with finding an agent! And thanks, Stephanie, for sharing your writing passion with WOW! readers.


Shelli said...

I wish Stephanie much luck for a writing career!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much!!

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