"Here’s George Jetson…his dog Astro." Nine-year-old Amber Frangos realized SOMEONE had to write those cartoons she loved. In some form or other she has been writing ever since. Novels, screenplays, poetry, chapbooks, the instructions on shampoo bottles…wash rinse repeat--IN THAT ORDER. What kind of chaos would happen to the consumer who did not read that label? The written word is her life. She self published the book, No Child Is Safe From Internet Crime: A Guide For Parents sold in 150+ libraries, appeared on Oprah.com. She has several short stories published, Guidepost.com and All My Bad Habits I learned From Grandpa. Amber currently lives in rural Kentucky with her husband, two dogs, two cats, two goats, 8 chickens and 1 rooster (the stereotype is so true). Her credo is if it can’t be written it doesn’t exist and if it does exist, it should be fiction.
Today, we were given the privilege of sitting down with one our runners-up for the 2008 Summer Flash Fiction contest. Her story, Greta in the Driver's Seat, captured the hearts of our guest judges. If you haven't done so already, read her story and come back for a chat.
Interview by Carrie Hulce
WOW: Thank you Amber for taking the time to sit down with us today to chat about your great story. How does it feel to have placed in the Wow, Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest?
Amber: At first I could not believe it was true. I've entered so many contests with…thanks, but no thanks. Then I was elated and proud. SOMEONE out there got me. Now? I put those feelings in a place with baby's first steps, first day of kindergarten. I’m in need of my next fix. Writing is my habit, my addiction.
WOW: That's wonderful, Amber, remembering those "firsts" is so important, glad we could help. What inspired you to write Greta in the Driver's Seat?
Amber: I originally thought of a short story where the husband and wife argued the entire road trip and at the end of their journey they realized their marriage was dead, then the thought popped in my head what if the husband was dead at the beginning of the journey? How would that change the perspective?
WOW: That is definitely a way of changing your perspective on a story, many of us here at WOW, thought it was a fantastic way to go. At the end of the story, you shocked your reader. Do you like to surprise people at the end of your stories?
Amber: I love it! Perspective is my favorite plot mechanism. I truly believe that all of us are capable of the most heinous crimes (mom will commit murder to save the life of her child) and the highest levels of kindness (jaded businessman offers shelter to victims during a hurricane), but it’s perspective that creates the catalyst.
WOW: You are so right, perspective really does make the story. Without it where would we get such great story lines for not only books but for movies and plays as well. Do you get inspiration for all the animals that live with you? If so, which animal do you think gives you the most inspiration?
Amber: I never thought about it before, but on some level I think they do inspire me. My rooster Burt resembles Bruce Willis (when he had hair) and my hen Mildred is the mirror image of Susan Sarandon. Then there’s my goat Murray who channels Moses.
WOW: That is very funny. A rooster that looks like Bruce Willis. It is so great how we can see people within animals. A great way to find additional creativity. Have you ever created a story about your husband? What character was he in the story?
Amber: Not an entire story, but there are characteristics of him in my writing. The way he chews the ends of his cigarettes, his penchant to keep the kitchen clean (I’m so lucky) or the way he uses driving as an interactive sport. But, when I write male characters I keep my husband's perspective (there's that word again) in mind. Is this the type of man he would like to be? Emulates? Is threatened by?
WOW: You are a lucky woman. A man that likes to clean a kitchen, what heaven. It is great that you can find ways of incorporating him into some of your characters. Have you ever created any stories about Kentucky?
Amber: Not stories (yet-they're still brewing), but my chapbook titled, Ghosts For Jesse Jewel, will be published later this year by finishing line press. The book of poetry chronicles my neighbor in Kentucky. His daddy's farm was sold to pay his mama's nursing home bill. He now lives on less than one acre of land instead of hundreds of acres. He has to live with the new folks that surround him on what used to be his land for generations.
WOW: Congratulations on the publication, that is fantastic. It is so fabulous where we can find stories. This is so great that you have found a story in your community and have been able to build from it. You currently have informative books on sale, can you tell us about these?
Amber: When my sons were little, the Internet was new to me. They would tell me about their online friends. A huge red flag of danger assaulted my brain. This resulted in my non-fiction No Child Is Safe: from Internet Crime, A Guide For Parents.
WOW: What a great idea. It is a scary world, and there is still so much out there on the internet that we are unsure of. This vast world that we have created has a lot of places that our children shouldn't venture to. We are so happy that you found a way to help parents keep their children safe. If you could pass along some information to new writers what would it be?
Amber: Persevere. At one time I feared editors, until I was one. I would suggest that all writers should judge a contest and sit on the other side of the fence and try to "pick one winner." Once done so, they will understand that rejection is nothing personal.
WOW: That is a great bit of information to pass along. So many of us have stacks of rejection letters and many of us do dwell on them, making them personal, when really they aren't, you are so right about that. How could you inspire others to take on their dream of writing?
Amber: I would tell them to jump in feet first, expect to fail sometimes, but know that in the end the wins will outweigh the losses. BUT, you’ve got to take the risks!!! Have some fun with your writing and don’t take yourself too seriously. I used to get so defeated when I received a rejection notice (I have saved all of them and I have hundreds), but then one day I realized that I don’t write for the editor, publisher or reader (although these are important for audience and publication) instead, I write for me--that day has made all the difference.
WOW: You are so, right, I can remember feeling the losses and thinking I was never good enough to be a writer. Oh, how that has changed over the years. You are so right, jump in and hold on tight for the ride. Do you have any thing else that you would like to add?
Amber: I'd like to thank WOW for their venue and their understanding that writers need to be read. While filling in the info for this interview sheet, I put in a DVD, lit two cinnamon bun candles, I'm home alone (very unusual), sipping my green tea with fake sugar and writing. Thoughts of new stories, characters, plots and fragments of poetry circle my thoughts. I'd rather be sitting here writing than doing anything else and I can honestly say, it doesn’t get any better than this!
WOW: Amber, again Congratulations for your placement in the top 10 with the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest. We look forward to reading more of your work for years to come.
If you would like to read more of Ambers, work, please check out her site and see what she has to offer. http://www.amberfrangos.com
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