Interview with Mary Blalock: Summer 2011 Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up

Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Mary B. Blalock is a sixty-three year old great-grandmother who enjoys gardening, yard work, and writing. With a sixth grade education, she has taught herself to type and has spent many hours pursuing her passion for storytelling. To date, she has two self-published novellas and is seeking representation for a third manuscript. She was raised in the mountains of Blackwater, Virginia, and now resides in Cowpens, South Carolina.

If you haven't done so already, check out Mary's award-winning story "Time Standing Still" and return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! 2011 Summer Flash Fiction Contest. What inspired you to write Time Standing Still?

Mary: I had the pleasure to be introduced to my eighty-two year old neighbor lady who, over time, shared many of her life's experiences. Already in the early stages of dementia, she didn't live so much in the present as in her memories of the past, but the stories she told were of joyous times. Within a few short months of that first meeting, she became withdrawn, and shortly after, stopped communicating altogether. Several years went by without the ability to acknowledge her family and loved ones, and I found it heartbreaking to watch. I often wondered what things might be going on inside her mind. Was she aware of everything around her, but unable to respond? I found this to be most troubling for me. I wrote Time Standing Still to offer hope to those who have a loved one in this kind of situation. Even though they do not respond to your presence, keep talking to them. We will never know how much they understand or how much joy our words mean to one who has truly lost everything.

WOW: Thanks for sharing that story, Mary. That is a heartbreaking situation that you were able to express very clearly through your story. What do you enjoy most about writing?

Mary: I grew up a lonely child in the mountains of Virginia, and I learned early on that writing is something I enjoy very much. I guess the most enjoyable thing is the amazement of how an imagination can transform an ordinary day into something quite extraordinary.

WOW: Yes, I agree with that. The imagination can do amazing things! What are you reading right now, and why?

Mary: Right now, I am not reading anything, but the last novel I read was Bag of Bones by Stephen King. I really like the work of Stephen King, and when I was much younger, the Alfred Hitchcock stories were a favorite. I like an unexpected ending, regardless of the twists and turns it takes to get there.

WOW: What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Mary: Never stop trying. Never, never, never!

WOW: Great advice! If you could have dinner with one author, living or dead, who would you choose, and why?

Mary: Margaret Mitchell. I was thirteen years old when I first read Gone With The Wind, and by the time I was fifteen, I had read it about thirty times. I think what fascinated me the most (aside from the fact that it was the greatest story of its time) was this was her first novel. She made me believe that writing was not an unattainable feat; just grab a pen and paper, open your mind and see what comes out.

WOW: Thanks so much for your thoughtful answers! Best of luck with your writing.

Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt


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