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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Interview with Sarah Hina, Winter 2009 Contest Runner-Up

Sarah Hina hails from Athens, Ohio. A former medical student and lab rat, Sarah now writes in between mothering two kids, watching films with her husband, and escaping into the outdoors with her camera and dog. Her debut novel, Plum Blossoms in Paris, is forthcoming from Medallion Press in 2011, while her flash fiction won first prize at The Clarity of Night.

For more of her poetry, vignettes, and musings, check out Sarah’s blog, Murmurs.

If you haven't done so already, check out Sarah's award winning story, Jackpot, and then return here for a conversation with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Winter 2009 Flash Fiction Contest! Could you please tell us more about your short story, Jackpot? What was your inspiration for this story?

Sarah: I enjoy using my photographs as prompts for my vignettes and poetry on Murmurs. However, winter is probably the hardest time to come up with cool photos, since most of the time I prefer outdoor settings. So one day, a little desperate, I decided to take along my camera to our local grocery store to see what I could capture. Well, as soon as I walked in, I saw this wall of gorgeous roses. It was a beautiful sight for my color-starved eyes, especially during those January doldrums. So I snapped a picture.

I think the jolt of finding something so beautiful in that somewhat monotonous, everyday place sparked the idea of Frank and his lovely gesture. We can brighten the world we live in, if we get outside our old routines and mindsets. Even on the coldest day of the year, we can create warmth for the people around us. As cliche as it sounds, giving creates its own reward. I have rarely felt as good after writing a story as I did after this one. Frank gave something back to me, too.

WOW: I felt good after reading your story. It refreshed me to read something so sweet and uplifting. What do you like about writing flash fiction?

Sarah: I love flash. There is nothing like it for stripping away the filler and digging deep into the essence of a character or emotion. It feels like an incredibly pure and potent communication between myself and the reader. The restrictions on length are actually a motivator for me. I had a tendency to overwrite before I started writing flash fiction. I think it's weaned that out of me to a large degree.

Flash does only carry you so far, though. The complete focus and immersion experience that a novel provides us writers is still what I enjoy, and fear, the most. Because there's so much room to fly, or to fall flat on your face.

WOW: That’s so true! Very well said. I see from your bio that you have written a soon-to-be-published book Plum Blossoms in Paris. Could you please tell us more about this novel? Does it feel like a relief to write flash fiction after completing a novel?

Sarah: Thanks for asking! Yes, Plum Blossoms in Paris will be released next summer by Medallion Press. It concerns a young American woman, Daisy, who falls in love with a Frenchman in Paris, with the strained relations between the U.S. and France during 2004 serving as an undercurrent. If you've seen Before Sunrise, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, it is very much in the same spirit of discovery and connection, with some hard choices that follow.

And yes, it was a huge relief, and a great growing process, to exchange novel writing for flash fiction. The expectations are very different. But there's no doubt that flash fiction is less demanding overall. Since I'm thick in the brambles of a new novel now, I miss it quite a bit.

WOW: As a wife and mother of two children, do you find it difficult to find time to write? What are some of your strategies to find time to write?

Sarah: It's always difficult to find the time, and the quiet space, to write, but I'm much luckier than most. Both my husband and I work from home, and we're both writers. So we're very understanding of one another's need to escape and get some work done.

Lately, I've started going out of the house to do my writing. It's very hard to totally disconnect from the kids' voices and their many small crises (as I'm sure you all know!). And also, I'll admit to being a shameless internet junkie. If I come to a pause in the story with an internet connection around, I tend to hop on and waste too much time. So this new routine has provided the discipline I need for this new novel. I definitely like to write every day, if I can.

WOW: I'm always roped in by the Internet, too, when I'm trying to write. That’s a good idea to find a space outside the home to work once in awhile. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Sarah: Write what you're passionate about. Write what moves you. If it doesn't inflame you, then it's just work. My husband, Paul, has always been a fervent believer in writing as art. I really admire that about him. I never wrote, or even dreamed of writing, before I met him. He is a constant inspiration in my life.

WOW: Thank you, Sarah, for your great answers! Good luck with your writing, and we look forward to reading more of your work soon!

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to get my hands on the novel. Loved the interview Anne.

    Sarah left out that she makes time to help aspiring writers like me become better too. Keeping my fingers crossed.


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