Interview with Spring '10 Contest Runner-Up Eileen Granfors

Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Eileen’s Bio:

Eileen Granfors lives in Santa Clarita, California. A former army brat, Eileen is a proud UCLA alum. She joined the UCLA Writers’ Extension Program after retiring from thirty-four years of teaching high school English. She has completed two novels and is working on a historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities: The Prequel. She is currently seeking representation for her YA novel, Marisol’s Totally Epic Expectations. Her poetry anthology, White Sheets, is available on Lulu. She loves to spend time reading, writing, and playing with her dogs.
(Photo: Eileen with her cockerpoo, Nilla.)

Visit her website, Read, Write, Laugh, Rewrite with Eileen Granfors, for book reviews, grammar and usage, and poetry.

Check out Eileen's winning entry, Quality Time, then c'mon back to join our interview with her as she shares a bit of herself with us!

Interview by Jill Earl

WOW: Eileen, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to chat with us, and congratulations for placing in our contest. How does it all feel?

Eileen: I am thrilled to place in the WOW Flash Fiction Contest! Although we write because we love to write, recognition pumps the old adrenalin to keep on submitting.

WOW: Doesn’t it, though? You get so charged up, you feel you can write and submit anything! Love your response, Eileen! How about we begin by talking about your entry? What’s the story behind it?

Eileen: My story, Quality Time, came out of a visit to my grandkids. My grandson, Nate, and granddaughter, Neve, are so beloved and the center of their family. In my childhood, kids were as Lynda Barry noted, "We were children with the sound turned off," to be seen but not heard! I had great parents, but discipline was everything and self-esteem was not on the list.

WOW: I enjoyed the twist your story offered, not quite the ‘quality time’ we generally expect---or hope for in our relationships. I found myself hoping that your protagonist would crack, say something positive to his daughter. Well done!

Moving onto your writing history, can you tell us a bit about it?

Eileen: I have loved books and writing since childhood. When I was three, I wanted to write my middle name, which is Gladys. My mom thought I said “Lettuce.” For several weeks, I wrote my name as Eileen Lettuce Clemens. Later, my second and third grade teachers encouraged my writing of plays and stories. In high school, I wrote thousands of letters to friends when I moved to St. Louis, MO, as well as articles for the school newspaper.

It was only after retiring from thirty-four years of teaching senior high (grammar and college composition) that I thought about giving fiction a try. I enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and found a whole new life. My writing teachers and classmates energize me. I love getting lost in the world of books, whether it’s one that I am reading or one that I am writing. The Barry’s quote above was from an essay called "The Sanctuary of School," which is exactly what school was for me.

WOW: (Laughs) Okay, your “Lettuce” story is hilarious! It’s good that early on you had teachers on hand to help you along in your writing. Having a supportive community of writers makes the writing process worthwhile, and good you got so much out of your time at UCLA. You’re a perfect example that it’s never too late to pursue writing. Since we’re on the subject, are there specific themes you like to explore in your work?

Eileen: So far, my writing has centered on family relationships and communication (or lack thereof). I also like to write about finding joy in the everyday moments of life and the purest love, that of a family dog.

WOW: I think you succeed with that in your story. I have to agree with you on a family dog being the purest love (sorry, cat fanciers!) I’ll never forget the many memories and fun we had with our own dogs and regret that dogs aren’t allowed in my building.

Let’s turn to your daily writing. What's a typical day for you?

Eileen: I am a morning person. I try to write after walking the dogs. I gather ideas and envision scenes. I write from about 8 a.m. to noon. If I haven’t written by 10:30 in the morning, I’m not going to write on a given day.

WOW: Sounds like you’ve got a great routine going there. I admit there’s an advantage to an early start, better chance to get more work done. I salute all morning persons. I’m more of a ‘midday’ one, if there’s such a thing. (Smiles)

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Eileen: Writing gives me a voice. I can explore my feelings and work out some of the puzzles of my life. My mom died in April of 2001. I wrote some of my childhood memories that summer to begin to heal that grief. That experience was truly the watershed moment when I saw how powerfully writing changes my outlook on life’s events.

WOW: You make a good point, Eileen. I think many of our readers can relate to what you just said, myself included. Writing helps develop our voice; gives us liberty to explore new ideas, thoughts---even worlds; and cause us to see our own lives differently. Its power is amazing, isn’t it?

So, are you working on any writing projects?

Eileen: I am finalizing a novel, Some Rivers End on the Day of the Dead for an October release. It’s a coming-of-age novel about a Hispanic-American girl finding herself after devastating losses in her life. This is the middle book of a planned trilogy, so I’m thinking and writing ideas all the time.

WOW: Congratulations on the upcoming release, we’ll be on the lookout for it! Wrapping up things, what advice would you like to leave our readers with?

Eileen: Don’t ever believe your work is “not good enough.” We all have stories to tell, and it’s important to tell them. My mother left us a novel she had written but not published as well as folders of the emails we sent over a ten-year span. What a gift! I want to be sure I leave such a legacy for my kids and grandkids.

WOW: What encouraging advice! If what you’re written so far is any indication, your children and grandchildren will have a wonderful legacy to look forward to. Eileen, once again, thanks for chatting with us today. Best of luck with your future writing endevours.


Unknown said...

Eileen, your story about "Cap" was a wonderful read!
It is interesting to know that your routine involves a morning start. I am more of a mid-day person and I start the day with follow-ups and correspondence. Reading your interview was part of that process for me.
Best with your writing. (By the way, I think that a distant cousin of your dog is resting soundly here in my writing room! He looks like an identical match! )

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