Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Interview with Frances Walsh: 3rd Place Winner in the 2017 Fall Flash Fiction Contest
Originally from the UK, I initially started to write in my free time as a way of relaxing and exploring my more creative side during my years at University. I have previously focused on writing poetry, but in recent years I have started to write short stories with a view to building up to a longer piece of work. I particularly enjoy writing character studies as I love creating detailed characters with complex but relatable personalities. One of my favourite authors as a child was Russell Hoban because although his stories involved elements of fantasy, his characters were so realistic and his work often focused on identity and introspection.
If you haven’t done so already, check out Frances’ award-winning story “Autumn Winds” and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Fall 2017 Flash Fiction Contest! What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write it?
Frances: I've always loved stories with good characterization where the author has spent time focusing on the characters as well as the plot. I knew I wanted to do a character study and the idea of an old man popped into my head. I think that the elderly is often an overlooked group in society, and it is difficult to find elderly lead characters in literature. I wanted to explore the problems, motivations and aspirations of an elderly figure without consigning them to the role of a supporting character in somebody else's narrative.
WOW: What do you enjoy the most and/or the least about writing?
Frances: I mostly enjoy exploring the characters in the story and adding layers to their personality. Creating two or three characters whose personalities will provide a great interaction in the story is a really fun process. Editing is definitely the part that I enjoy the least! It can be quite disheartening to cut out whole paragraphs of the story because they don't quite fit with the narrative, but I always feel better for it at the end when the story flows more smoothly.
WOW: Yes! I had a creative writing teacher refer to that as “killing your darlings” and, as you’ve said, it can be a gutting yet rewarding experience. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?
Frances: I'm reading Robinson Crusoe because I found a copy in my local bookshop and realized that it was one of those classics that I'd never got ‘round to reading. The blurb sold it as the psychological journey of a man who is lost to the rest of the world and I thought that sounded fascinating.
WOW: Oh, I like that! I’ve not heard it described in that way before. I hope you enjoy it! In your bio, you say you previously focused on writing poetry. How has your poetry influenced your short stories, or vice versa?
Frances: I find that writing poetry has improved my ability to make a point in my stories without explicitly having to state it. As a reader, I prefer stories which leave room for interpretation and find that a more poetic style of writing helps to facilitate this. On the other hand, I often have to go back through my work and edit areas where I have gone a little overboard and the writing is too florid!
WOW: I have experienced that with poetry, too, that it helps me to better show rather than tell in my prose. Thanks for making that connection. If you could give other creative writers one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
Frances: I would advise them to not be afraid of creating flawed characters. In my opinion, the best and most relatable characters are the ones who display both positive and negative traits as it allows room for the character to develop alongside the plot and in some cases to learn from their own failings.
WOW: Thank you for your writing advice and for your thoughtful responses. Happy Writing!
Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive female athletes.