Interview with Nicole Waskie - 2009 Spring Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Nicole Waskie has been writing in one form or another since the age of two, when she would dictate her poetic masterpieces to her mother whilst she languished in the bathtub. Such gems as "Mascara Face" (Nicole's first epic poem about the trials and tribulations of makeup removal) have since evolved into a deep-seated desire to express herself through the written word and an obsession with flash fiction (which may or may not have something to do with her jam-packed schedule and short attention span) though she aspires to write a novel in due time. Nicole currently works as an elementary school library media specialist and cheerleading coach, and furiously pens sentences on receipts and napkins whenever inspiration strikes.

Her e-mail is nnwaskie[at]gmail[dot]com, and she would love to hear from you!

If you haven't done so already, check out Nicole's story "The Last First" and then return here for a conversation with the author!

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest! How did you begin writing your award winning story, "The Last First?"

Nicole: I wrote "The Last First" on a whim. I was sitting on my living room floor, and a memory of renting paddle boats at a local park popped into my head. It was so vivid that I felt compelled to re-create the scene in words, and "The Last First" evolved from there.

WOW: You've done well recreating the scene. Your imagery is great! Do you find it difficult or liberating to write within the word limit restrictions of flash fiction?

Nicole: I love flash fiction. It's one of my favorite ways to write! I find that expressing a complete story in a limited amount of space forces you to carefully choose your words and details in a way that longer fiction doesn't demand. So, while it's difficult in that sense, I think it's liberating to be able to express a story in such a rapid, concise way, because you don’t have the opportunity to get bogged down in the exposition of the story.

WOW: Which books/authors do you read for inspiration, and how do they inspire you?

Nicole: I read all the time, and I read anything I can get my hands on. I'm a school librarian, so I read a lot of children's books, and draw much inspiration from children's fiction. Kate DiCamillo is a master of storytelling, and Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy was quite possibly some of the best books I have ever read--I am so inspired by how children's authors handle adult themes using understandable language without becoming patronizing. As far as "adult" books and authors, I am completely obsessed with Alice Sebold, Sue Monk Kidd, and Sylvia Plath. I recently finished John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things, which was dark and delightful. I could go on and on and on…but I won't! I find inspiration in any author that can make the mundane seem epic, especially those that write about the complexities and consequences of the minute choices life presents us, and the doubts that exist in all our souls.

WOW: I like what you say about children's authors writing complex ideas using understandable language. That can be extremely difficult to do and I also find it inspiring when an author does that well. What is your strategy for finding or making time to write with a busy schedule?

Nicole: I'm horrible about writing. I don't have a set schedule, and I should. I write whenever I feel the urge to write. I'm lucky to have a supportive fiancée who understands when I need to disappear with my laptop for an hour or two, but more frequently, I'm scribbling on napkins and scraps of paper, a sentence here, a sentence there. Consequently, my list of finished work is very, very short.

WOW: I've always loved that image of authors being so compelled to write that they scribble away on napkins and paper scraps. It will take some time to pull all of the sentences together, but we'll look forward to reading more of your work when that happens! What’s the most useful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Nicole: The best advice I ever received was to just keep writing. I often get discouraged with myself for not following through on stories I start. I was complaining the other day about how I never finish what I start, and my fiancée told me, basically, "Then FINISH!" If you love writing, write. It's as simple as that.

WOW: I often ask authors that question, even though "keep writing" is usually the answer. I always find it helpful to hear those words. Are you currently working on any new writing projects or stories?

Nicole: See above! I'm always half-writing something. I've been banging around a few ideas for longer stories, but they've yet to come to fruition. I also review books for School Library Journal, so I'm consistently writing reviews each month.

WOW: Thank you, Nicole! Good luck and keep writing!

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt


Kim said...

Thanks, Nicole, for the great story! I always enjoy getting to 'know' the author after I've read a story. And I also like to hear other authors say they're terrible about writing consistently - I don't feel so alone then!

Maybe I should try reading children's stories - I haven't read one for years - it would definitely give me a fresh angle towards my writing.

Ashley said...

Great interview, it's fantastic to hear from another writer who doesn't keep a schedual. I write when an idea pops up and have unfinished work all over the place. The besrt part is when you are cleaning up and you suddenly come across an idea you'd forgotten about!

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