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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Interview with Caryl Cain Brown, Runner Up

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt

Caryl Cain Brown has been writing for years--just not fiction. With BBA and MBA degrees to her credit, Caryl’s nearly thirty-year career in higher education marketing has yielded a wealth of press releases, magazine articles, newsletters, and brochure copy. Now with two grown sons, she’s begun to try her hand at new things: writing fiction, drawing, and learning major home improvement skills.

This is Caryl’s second fiction contest submission ever, but it probably won’t be her last. She lives and writes in Georgia.

Caryl is a Runner Up in the WOW! Women On Writing Spring 2008 Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by Seal Press. If you haven't done so already, read her winning story, Stolen Moment.


WOW: Congratulations, Caryl! How did you feel when you learned that you’d placed as a runner-up in the WOW! Spring 2008 Flash Fiction Contest?

Caryl: What a thrill! I couldn’t believe it. This is only the second time I’ve entered a writing contest, so I’m really motivated to try again.

WOW: I think we’ve all heard stories about writers with shoeboxes filled with rejection slips before they finally get their first story published, so that’s very impressive that you succeeded after only your second try! Can you tell us a little bit about your award winning entry? What was your inspiration for this piece?

Caryl: The concept for this story was inspired by a real situation, although it is entirely fictional. It was also one of those stories that came to me almost fully formed; I had it down in rough draft within a half hour. Of course, then I tinkered with the words--making sure I was within the word-count and that every word was just right--for about a week afterwards. My stories don’t always come that easily. And I’m usually really slow about working through character motivations.

WOW: What made you decide to start writing fiction after having a career in higher education marketing for nearly 30 years?

Caryl: I’ve been dabbling in fiction for many years, I just never trusted myself enough to share my stories with anyone else. I’m retiring in the spring and my children are finally out on their own--it’s now or never. I have the time and the desire, so I’m putting aside my insecurities and going for it.

WOW: I can definitely relate to your hesitation for sharing your work, but I'm so glad to hear that you’re going to keep sharing it anyway. Based on your award winning entry, it seems like you have a lot to offer the writing community. From your bio I know that you’ve had a lot of experience publishing articles, press releases, brochure copy, etc. How do you think your experience with marketing-related writing has helped or hurt your creative writing?

Caryl: Being in marketing has taught me to always keep my audience in mind. I think that holds true for fiction writing as well. Also, like marketing, fiction requires clear and compelling communication to make the story believable.

WOW: Is there anything about writing fiction that you find most challenging? Is this something that you struggled with while writing this story? If so, how did you overcome it?

Caryl: Plot bunnies--random threads that entice me away from the direction I need to be going--and telling the full story in the most concise way. The 500-word limit of the WOW Flash Fiction contest is an excellent exercise because every word has to count.

WOW: The 500-word limit is a great writing challenge, and I can tell that you took every word into consideration. I was very impressed with how streamlined and precise your writing was without sacrificing character or description. Presumably, you’ll want to work on other types of stories in the future. What kind of creative writing goals do you have for yourself?

Caryl: I would love to publish a novel, either mystery or romance/relationship.

WOW: We'll look forward to reading more of your work someday! Are you working on any other writing projects right now?

Caryl: I’m working on a couple of ideas, but nothing that’s ready to show to anyone yet.

WOW: Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us! We’ll be anxiously waiting to read more of your work someday when you are ready to show it.

If you haven't done so already, read Caryl's winning story, Stolen Moment.

To check out our latest writing contest sponsored by skirt! books, please visit:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:57 PM

    Great story! Weirdly familiar, except "I" am a man and "he" was a lady and the 14 year old was her son.
    You've captured in a few words the crux of a heart-wrenching situation. Took me 14 years to figure it out.
    Congratulations on a fine start. I want to read more!


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