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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Meet Elle Marr, Fall 2015 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Elle Marr is originally from Sacramento, California and has been a writer since she was a kid, filling journals with short stories and sneaking into online forums for adult writers. Now graduated to full-length novels, she is currently crafting her third manuscript. Recently, she spent three years in France during which she explored the Normand countryside and obtained a masters degree from the Sorbonne University in Paris. She was devastated to learn of the November 13th attacks on Paris this past year, and wrote “The Bataclan” in a moment of cathartic creativity. She believes deeply in art and its powers of therapy, be it the act of writing or staring at a photograph in a crowded museum. Elle lives in Portland, Oregon and can be found blogging about story structure, publishing, and greenery at or followed on Twitter @ellemarr.

It's clear from reading Elle's winning entry that France is a country near and dear to her heart, and wanderlust is something that's ingrained deep in her soul. Read The Bataclan and then return here to learn more about Elle and her plans for the future.

WOW: You are currently seeking representation for two novels, both set in France. Can you tell us a little about each?

Elle: Yes! I'm actually finishing re-writes for Hearts in Rouen, which is a Romantic Suspense set in France. Essentially, it's a love letter to my time in Normandy during which I spent two years in the city of Rouen. My protagonist, Michelle, goes to France with a broken heart and meets a seductive Frenchman who tutors her in his language. The problems arise when Michelle realizes he's not who he says he is and he's been stalking her for self-serving, medical purposes. I am currently seeking representation for my Suspense Thriller, The Paris Twin, also set in France, but which focuses more on family dynamics and what occurs when secrets and long-harbored pains are left undiscussed. Shayna goes to Paris to clean out her sister Angela's apartment upon learning her sister died in a school shooting. Upon arrival, she discovers a note in their childhood twin language proclaiming, "Alive. Trust no one." The twists ensue from there!

WOW: It sounds like you are definitely on your way--impressive! What qualities would your dream agent have?

Elle: Great question (one I think about often). My dream agent would have a passport and be interested in the world around us. He or she would be part editor, part sounding board, someone with whom I could work as a team. My hope is that getting my book published would be a collaborative effort. A dream agent for me would share my vision for my book but not be afraid to draw on his or her experience to suggest new ideas.

WOW: You spent three years in France and earned a masters degree at the Sorbonne. Tell us a little about how your special connection with the country came about.

Elle: I've always been fascinated with other cultures and languages. French, Spanish, Italian, and German were the choices in middle school and I chose French. I loved its sound, the billowing vowels, and its accompanying culture of cheese, art, history, and later, wine. Learning another language unlocked a world far away, similar to what I always experienced with books, and I kept with it through college and afterward. Eventually I sold my car, stored ten boxes in my sister's apartment, and moved to France for a 7-month teaching contract that turned into 3 years and a masters degree.

WOW: Do you also write as your day job? How do you fit in time for creative writing?

Elle: My day job is interesting but definitely does not pay me to write! Instead, I carve out time methodically, deliberately squeezing in 30 minutes here and an hour there. Once I have an idea planned out I work like a fiend and it's easy to dedicate my free time to something that grips me.

WOW: Binge-watching television shows. Yay or nay? If yay, what are some of your favorites?

Elle: Absolutely, yay. Binge watching enables me to pick out story structure and zero in on character arcs - both which I find integral to crafting a good story, and even a good chapter - in ways I wouldn't otherwise by only watching one episode at a time. I'm a huge fan of "Breaking Bad" and "Game of Thrones" (books first, series second), and also of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Pretty Little Liars." High brow, low brow, acclaimed or not, I think television shows offer a great look into constructing narratives.

WOW: I completely agree! Congratulations again and keep us posted on the progress of those novels. They sound intriguing!

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