Interview with Summer 2014 Flash Fiction Runner Up, Rebecca Chapple

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Today we are pleased to introduce Rebecca Chapple, whose entry "Scar" placed as a Runner Up in the Summer 2014 Flash Fiction Contest. Check out her entry and then come back here to learn more about Rebecca and how she balances writing with a full-time career.

Rebecca Chapple is a transplanted Midwesterner living in Southern California. She is presently employed in the Legal field after years of working in Investment Banking, both in New York and Los Angeles. An avid sports enthusiast, Rebecca’s latest athletic foray is learning archery, which of course is not the least bit influenced by any bestselling books or movies. She is currently working on a short story based on her year studying abroad in Vienna, Austria.

WOW: Welcome, Rebecca! I really enjoyed your entry,"Scar," a beautifully written story about loss and healing. How did you first get the idea for it?

Rebecca: Over the last year or so, several friends of mine have had family members die, and as I tried to help them with their loss, I started thinking about how we process grief. And about how the coping mechanisms we use are often hidden from view. I thought, “What if a coping mechanism wasn’t hidden at all and what if it was physical in nature rather than just emotional?” The story basically took off from there.

WOW: Your bio mentions you are working on a short story based on a year you spent abroad in Vienna. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Rebecca: Sure. It is a coming of age story and is more lighthearted than “Scar.” It’s in the beginning stages, but revolves around a young woman, who is a bit bumbling, somewhat myopic and sometimes annoyingly self-effacing. We see Vienna through her Midwestern, rather provincial eyes and then, hopefully, see how Vienna transforms her into a more confident, worldly soul. I’m still in that first draft stage where I have lots of ideas going off in lots of directions. Needless to say, I have a bit of winnowing to do.

WOW: How did you first hear about the WOW! Women on Writing flash fiction contest? Is this your first time entering or have you submitted before?

Rebecca: At the suggestion of a friend, I’d been reading the website and saw the contest. I was intrigued by the idea of writing a complete story in so few words. Intrigued and intimidated, so it was quite a while before I took the plunge and submitted my first story. “Scar” is the second story I’ve submitted and this is the second time I’ve submitted it. I took advantage of the critiquing service offered by WOW! Women on Writing on the first submission of this story, and the feedback I received was invaluable.

WOW: I agree that the critiques can be extremely beneficial. I'm glad you found yours so helpful! You are currently employed in the legal field. What time of day do you find most productive for your writing?

Rebecca: I work the evening shift as a legal word processor, so my writing times a bit different than other people. I find I am most productive mid-morning. Occasionally, I write after I get home which, for me, is a good time for automatic writing.

WOW: That sounds like a great schedule to balance writing and work. Who are some of the authors who have inspired your own writing?

Rebecca: Actually, I have a story about my greatest literary influence. John Irving is a bit of a hero of mine. He also studied in Vienna, and while I was there, was on a book tour for The Hotel New Hampshire. He was giving a lecture at the school where he studied (not where I was studying) and four of us decided to sneak in to his talk. I was so star struck, I really didn’t remember anything he said except for one point: writers should be able to blend into the background the better to observe the world. During the book signing portion of the evening, my friend, Marian, equally in awe of John Irving and who had skipped classes that day to find an English language version of The Hotel New Hampshire, held out her book to be signed. “Weren’t you in Janele (a small café by our school) this afternoon?” he asked. Blushing, she said yes. “I recognized you by your bracelet,” he told her. Marian wore a Nantucket bracelet, a braided bracelet popular at the time. At which point she and I basically fled the book signing line, being totally freaked out by our idol speaking to us (because, as her best friend, I lumped myself in with her).

We escaped to the stone steps outside the school with our two classmates in tow. A light rain was falling while the three of us grilled Marian on the afternoon’s events. “You mean you didn’t see John Irving? Truly? Janele is, like, five tables. How could you have not seen him?” As we continued to interrogate her, a totally unremarkable figure walked down the steps and put up his umbrella. As he walked past our group he paused, and in that brief instant I realized it was John Irving walking unnoticed into the rainy, Viennese night. My friends were still talking, and I was the only one who saw him. As the figure under the umbrella grew smaller and smaller, I tried telling my classmates what I witnessed, but just as we didn’t believe the Marian in the Café story, the others didn’t believe me. But I knew who I had seen. That experience and the fascinating lesson it taught me about observation and anonymity has remained vivid to this day.


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