Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Noah Pedrini: Second Place Winner Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest
We have a real treat on The Muffin today! I am lucky to interview Noah Pedrini who won second place in the 2009 Summer Flash Fiction contest with his story Rose. (Click on the link, scroll down until you see Noah's smiling face, and then you can read his award-winning story yourself!)
Here's a little information about Noah:
Noah Pedrini has always felt a strong affinity for the written word and wanted to be, more than anything, a writer. Taking some creative writing courses in college, it wasn't until relocating to Buenos Aires in early '09 when he began writing in earnest. Inspired by the city's strong literary history, he embarked upon the never-ending process of honing his craft, writing regularly, and joining a weekly workshop of expat writers. When not writing, he makes art out of found notes, plays fingerstyle blues guitar, and travels.
WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Noah. Let's get started with learning more about your award-winning story. Where did you come up with the story idea for "Rose?"
Noah: There is a shopping district in Boston called Downtown Crossing. It was right around the corner from the college I attended. Almost every time I'd walk through there, I would see a lady selling roses--the same lady--and though I never bought any of her roses, she has stayed with me ever since. There was something I found fascinating about her--her expressionless face, her hollow eyes, and the slow, even way in which she moved.
One day, not too long ago, I was on a bus in Buenos Aires, and the rose seller was in the back of my mind. I looked out the window and caught a blind couple walking down the sidewalk, something I had seen several times during the last few weeks. Somehow those two elements--the rose seller from Boston and the blind couple from Buenos Aires--bounced
around in my head until I arrived at the loose idea for the piece that became "Rose."
That is how ideas seem to come to me: ideas bounce around in my head, narrowly missing each other, until two or more have a magical accident and collide to suggest a story.
WOW: What a fascinating process. The important thing here is to let ideas have time to bounce around! What are the themes you are exploring in this flash fiction piece?
Noah: One of the themes I am interested in is alienation. The story begins by suggesting that the rose seller and the blind couple are somewhat alienated from society through the description of the other pedestrians on the street avoiding them as they pass. The rose seller feels a sense
of alienation because she works alone at a difficult job--because she is an immigrant maybe. The blind couple feels alienated too; but for them, the alienation comes from the fact that they are left unable to see the society of which they are a part.
But when the rose seller gets a sale, and it comes from the blind man, we see through the couple's ensuing dialogue that they are in fact, at least that day, rather happy. While the other pedestrians are busy and in a hurry, the couple walks slowly. Though the reason for their
physical slowness is conditional, the reader (hopefully) sees an analogy in the contrast between the two and is left with a sentiment of not hurrying through life, living enough in the moment to enjoy the simpler things such as the smell of a rose.
WOW: You did explore both those themes really well in your story, which is definitely why you won second place. All that in just a few hundred words is amazing! Your descriptions are very rich and vivid! How do you go about writing such great descriptions with such a small word count?
Noah: Thanks. I really enjoy writing description. More often than not, for me, I stare into space until I've managed to put myself close enough to whatever it is I'm trying to describe, so that eventually some part of its essence steps forward.
I think that the key to effective description, particularly with respect to a small word count, is to make it do more than just describe the setting, characters, etc. In addition, it must do things like establish the story's tone and reiterate its themes.
WOW: That's great writing advice, especially for flash fiction writers! I must repeat it. Setting "must do things like establish the story's tone and reiterate its themes." Do you enter a lot of contests? If so, why? If not, why did you decide to enter WOW!'s?
Noah: Being the solitary, often grueling activity that writing is, contests give writers (especially the new ones) the burst of confidence it takes to keep at it through all the bouts of writer's block, brutally honest critiques, and pieces that seem to go nowhere.
I submitted this piece to the WOW! contest and one other; those are the only two I've entered so far. I don't recall how I heard about it. There are a number of excellent websites that list fiction contests of all kinds, I think it may have been through one of those.
WOW: We hope this contest gave you the boost you needed to keep at it! Your bio said that you recently moved to Buenos Aires, and that's when your writing took off. What is the reason for this?
Noah: For me, traveling is one of the most exciting and effective ways to enrich my well of experience. From there my creative endeavors are fed. And once in a while, I look in to find that it has given birth to a new creative pursuit. Everyone is inspired differently; for me inspiration
comes from introducing myself to new places and people and putting myself in new situations.
More specifically, I think my return to writing upon moving to Buenos Aires was was due to two main reasons. One, being in a cheaper country afforded me the freedom to work less and have more time to be creative. Two, Buenos Aires is a city with a strong literary history that remains
strong to this day. The city hosts the largest book fair in South America, and its café culture is very conducive to writing. Borges and Cortazar are its most well-known authors, but only a few of many brilliant writers that call or have called this city home. Also, a growing number of expatriate writers have relocated here from abroad, and a number of excellent resources exist to support that community. One I wholeheartedly recommend is Writers in Buenos Aires .
Anyway, I feel very fortunate to have found myself in Argentina and for the role living here has played in reigniting my longstanding interest in writing.
WOW: It sounds like a fascinating place to be living and writing, and we are glad that it inspired you to write "Rose." What projects are you currently working on?
Noah: I am currently working on an interactive digital art project that draws on the ever-growing collection of Post-it notes I've collected from the streets. More than the things they say, I find beauty in the unique style of handwriting each contains and see a sort of anthropological value in them as discarded notes that represent bits and pieces of
people's lives. What's more, they make great writing prompts!
Of course, I am always working on writing new pieces and rewriting older ones and trying to improve at a craft that is at once dreadfully difficult and singularly fulfilling.
WOW: The Post-it note project sounds really interesting, and I bet you do learn a lot. Writers' imaginations can often run wild with the littlest bits of information, too. Good luck to you, Noah, with that project and the rest of your writing!
interview conducted by Margo L. Dill (http:// margodill.com/blog/)