Interview with Margaret Keating: 2016 Spring Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Margaret’s Bio:

Margaret has always loved to read and had thought the bridge to writing impassable until she stumbled two years ago into an online beginning writer’s workshop. Joy! She has since been active in online writing communities, sharing her writing-prompt work and supporting her fellow writers. Margaret writes short fiction and has recently found poetry (or perhaps it found her).

Margaret’s 10 years as a trial attorney continue to influence her writing. She now works as an Executive Assistant and Volunteerism Director for a non-profit association—a job that encourages her writing endeavors. Margaret shares her home with her husband and more books than she can count (but not enough!). She welcomes contact at

If you haven’t done so already, check out Margaret’s award-winning story “The Priorities of Kathleen Curtis” and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW 2016 Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write it?

Margaret: While the story is fiction, it reflects my experiences of believing that I was in complete control of my life – my relationships, my body, my habits, my family dynamics, my emotions – and then finding out I was a bit mistaken.

WOW: Nice – fiction is always good for a little introspection. In what ways has 10 years as a trial attorney continued to influence your writing?

Margaret: I left courtroom practice over seven years ago, but there are quiet, vivid court scenes that still play out in my head every day: for example, the defendant who was thrown out of court for wearing “pajamas”; "This is a house dress," she told me in the hallway, adding that it was the prettiest, cleanest thing she owned. When I get lost in my thoughts at my desk, I think of her – and all the others who were made to feel a certain way in court that they hadn't imagined – and I ground myself. I practiced in a high volume courtroom – so many women, so many quietly vivid memories. These scenes deserve poetry, but for now I work them into my short stories.

WOW: That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing those memories and how they affect your writing. What do you enjoy the most and/or the least about writing?

Margaret: I enjoy the sound of my pen scratching across paper. There are notebooks and loose leaf papers strewn about my house with the results of this old-school approach. I also love that it can be done anywhere – I have a collection of "tray table poetry" from my travels. I do not enjoy naming my characters. I think I relish a little all the joys, sorrows, challenges, opportunities of that slice of anonymity associated with being a middle child ... so naming overwhelms me.

WOW: I so often write on a computer that your description of the sound of pen on paper brought me back to childhood when, for me, writing was always done joyously on paper. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Margaret: I devour contemporary fiction, but I always revisit the classics. I am currently reading The Mayor of Casterbridge because I love how perfectly, maddeningly unfair life is to Thomas Hardy’s perfectly, maddeningly human characters. I must say that I was a lot more sympathetic to Michael Henchard when I was younger. I am much more sympathetic to his daughter on this much later re-reading. Ah, the evolution of the reader!

WOW: Yes, that’s one of the joys of reading and re-reading stories! If you could give other creative writers one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

Margaret: I used to think writing was an “individual sport” when in fact there is a whole community of writers out there – on line, at your library, in a classroom – waiting to support you and in need of your encouragement. Find your community, join it, and participate actively. I think you will not regret this wonderfully creative give and take.

WOW: Wonderful advice. Thank you! Anything else you’d like to add?

Margaret: My sincere congratulations to the winners of this contest and gratitude to WOW! for the opportunity to showcase my work.

WOW: You are very welcome! Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. Happy writing!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, writer and writing instructor


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