Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Interview with Sharon Frame Gay, Runner-Up in the WOW! Spring 2017 Flash Fiction Contest
WOW: Thanks for being here today, Sharon! "Starter Marriage" describes the disintegration of a relationship from the perspective of the woman. What inspired you to tackle this topic? How do you think the perspective would be flipped if you told it from the point of view of the man?
Sharon: I've always been fascinated by the incongruity of romantic love. One person may love the other person more in a relationship, and there are different levels of commitment. Woe to the lover who jumps in with a whole heart, only to discover that their partner wasn't in the same dream. I think the loss of this marriage told through James' eyes might portray him in a better light. I like to imagine that James isn't the impervious cad that some may assume he is when they read "Starter Marriage". Maybe he was the first in the relationship to realize that it was broken, and was brave enough to move on. Sarah acknowledges at the end that the wedding ring "hadn't fit in a long time". Through her heartache, she realizes that there were issues that hadn't been addressed. We don't know if Sarah had shut James out long ago, thus the advent of Emily. Was Sarah a victim, or an accomplice to the murder of a marriage?
WOW: Your short fiction has been published in a variety of literary journals and anthologies. "The Lighthouse" recently won the July competition for the site, The Writing District." Can you tell our readers a little about that particular story (loved it, by the way, very haunting!)
Sharon: Thank you for your kind words! I wrote "The Lighthouse" in a more formal tone, in the "voice" that Mr. Beckwith might tell his story. He was raised in the late 1800's and had a Victorian sense about him. I imagine living in a lighthouse on the coast of Maine at the turn of the century would be a very lonely existence. The wind howls, the foghorn cries into the darkness, birds roost upon the ledges in cold clusters. How does one endure such isolation? Was Isabel a figment of a lonely man's imagination that spilled over into reality? Or did Isabel truly appear one day, a woman of bone and sinew who stole his heart. Perhaps she was a ghost from another time who refused to vacate the lighthouse. I leave it up to the reader to decide.
WOW: What type of books do you like to read and who are some of your favorite authors?
Sharon: I read everything - even the back of cereal boxes! It's hard to have favorites, but I am keenly interested in historical fiction, especially Tudor England in the 1500's, such as books written by Phillipa Gregory. I also love a good murder mystery, suspense novels, love stories and biographies. I am especially drawn to Southern writers such as Ferrol Sams, Anne Rivers Siddons, Olive Burns, Pat Conroy, and M.O. Walsh. I tap my feet and wait impatiently for the newest John Sandford suspense/crime novels to come out. Ken Follett is magnificent. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner was fine dining for my soul. The characters in his Pulitizer Prize-winning book still follow me around, a literary haunting. I read any book that crosses my path with great enthusiasm.
WOW: What does your writing process look like? Do you like to outline your ideas or are you more of a "pantser?"
Sharon: I usually get a phrase, a sentence or a thought that enters my head, then I sit down and start writing. The majority of my stories are written in one fell swoop from beginning to end. To be honest, I have no idea where my characters are going to take me. I am along for the ride, just like the reader is! The endings often surprise me. When I write, I feel like I am a vessel, a scribe for somebody's life experience, and I hope I tell their story in a way that satisfies the character. I seldom, if ever, outline my stories first, so yes, I am a "Pantser"!
WOW: What advice would you give others looking to submit their work to literary journals and anthologies? And where is your go-to place for finding new places to submit?
Sharon: Consider rejection as a positive thing. It's so difficult for writers, who are sensitive by nature, to receive those dreaded rejection notices, but in the end it's helpful. It's particularly useful when an editor is kind enough to give you her reasons why the piece wasn't chosen.
I look at websites such as Duotrope, Poets & Writers, or Review Review, and also read favorite literary magazines to see where I might find a good fit for my story. And of course, there is a treasure trove of great writing information on Women on Writing!
I also think it's important to network with fellow writers. I keep my eye out for magazines that might be a good fit for other authors I know. Helping each other find suitable journals and anthologies comes back to you tenfold. It's also invaluable if you share your work with a "trusted reader" - another writer who reads and critiques your work with constructive thoughts and comments.
I spend a lot of time looking for the proper fit for my stories. Duotrope is especially helpful because not only does it list various literary magazines and anthologies, but it keeps a running tally for the writer, displaying acceptances, rejections, and pending stories.
It has been a pleasure participating in this interview, and with Women on Writing. Thank you!