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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Robin Tyndall, Runner Up, 2014 Spring Flash Fiction Contest

Today we are excited to feature Robin Tyndall, whose story "Catalina Blue" was a runner up in our 2014 Spring Flash Fiction Contest. Read her winning entry here and then come back for an inspirational interview to learn how Robin combines writing fiction "on the fly" with juggling a full-time career and motherhood.

Robin works in regulatory compliance, but her childhood dream is to be a published fiction writer. She is pursuing a masters degree in English one class at a time while trying to stay an active wife and mom. She finds that writing “on the fly”—waiting for sports practices to end, on road trips (her story was originally drafted on the way to her son’s basketball tournament)—is her most productive time. Robin submits infrequently, but she had a story published in the children’s magazine Jack and Jill. She houses semi-complete middle grade and young adult novel drafts on her hard drive.

WOW: “Catalina Blue” involves themes I’m sure many of us can relate to, such as aging parents and unfulfilled dreams. Where did you get the inspiration for this story?

Robin: We were driving to a basketball tournament in Tennessee a few years ago. I was sitting in the back seat looking out the window, when I saw an old car in someone’s front yard. Immediately I imagined a father and son squatting beside the car, and the adult son started talking about it in my head. I grabbed scrap paper out of my purse and started writing. That first draft took about 15 minutes. My writing is fueled by voices, and I’m sure those voices stem from some kind of inner psyche, so I’m either a writer or I need to be on medication.

WOW: How impressive that you could crank a story out longhand, in the car, no less, in such a short amount of time! But your bio does say that you find success “writing on the fly,” in between your children’s sports practices and other activities. Do you usually do that with a computer, tablet, longhand, etc.? What is that process like?

Robin: I try to keep paper and pen handy, especially in the car. I seem to be most productive when I am sandwiched between things to do. I can jump right into a narrative. It’s like anti-procrastination. That’s why the sitting in the car works so well—it’s a confined space and time. When I have the luxury of time and space to write, I work on other tasks. (My son is driving now, so these opportunities have become scarcer.)

WOW: Can you tell us a little about the short story you had published in Jack & Jill?

Robin: Sure. In a previous career, I traveled a lot. I wrote a story about a father who took his daughter to India, and she had to try food prepared in a restaurant that was far different from what she was used to in a more developed country. She found commonalities with the people who welcomed her in the kitchen, which eased her apprehension. It was called "Making Roti," and I based the story on events I had experienced.

WOW: Since you work full time, do you find your do your best creative writing at morning or at night?

Robin: I wish I could give you a convincing answer! My energy is definitely in the morning, but this fall I am devoting most of my efforts to my day job, which involves a lot of critical reading. I’m mentally drained on weeknights. I almost have to be out of my routine to allow the creative side to dominate, which can happen whenever I have the time to permit such an escape. My dream “me time” is a weekend where I could just hole up and be responsible for nothing but writing and feeding myself.

WOW: I've done that before, and believe me, it's well worth it! Who are some of your favorite authors who have influenced your writing?

Robin: I read a lot of NC writers (we have an amazing fountain of talent here!). I love dialogue and I have to say Hemingway’s brevity was an influence when I was younger. I don’t really have a short list; I tend to read whatever or whoever interests me in the moment. Business writing, of all things, taught me to be a merciless editor of my own drafts.

WOW: Thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing with us. We wish you continued success with your fiction writing!

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