Tuesday, May 08, 2018
Interview with Rohana Chomick: 2017 Fall Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up
What can you say about a zigzag woman? Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Rohana was a teenage hippie poet in an upper middle class world, who then moved to Barbados to be with her family after traveling across Canada on a train. Next stop: St. Petersburg, Florida, where she wrote poetry while attending junior college. Life after that has been a wandering journey into a variety of “careers” as a salesclerk in a book store, a features writer for a local newspaper, a product description writer for the Home Shopping Network, a copywriter for an advertising agency, a resume writer for a company dedicated to helping displaced executives across the country find new employment, and now a librarian in the special collections department at the John F. Germany Public Library in Tampa. During this wild ride, Rohana has not lost her poet soul, although sometimes it seems it is buried pretty deep under the complexities of making a living, something she has to do so she can have a roof over her head and food in her belly (and in her cats’ bellies too). She has written a sci-fi novel currently in editing limbo, several flash fiction stories, and other things that are still waiting in computerland for a chance to escape. Rohana writes a blog about nothing in particular at tampatowngirltalks.blogspot.com.
If you haven’t done so already, check out Rohana’s award-winning story “Gone” and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: What was the inspiration for your short story, or what prompted you to write it?
Rohana: I’m fascinated by post-apocalyptic stories. I was blown away by The Road by Cormac McCarthy, but the actual inspiration for my story was the movie Bokeh, filmed in Iceland. A young vacationing couple wakes up to a land where everyone has suddenly and inexplicably disappeared.
WOW: Post-apocalyptic stories fascinate me, too, because I wonder if or how I would be able to survive in one. What do you enjoy the most and/or the least about writing?
Rohana: I love the actual writing process, watching characters come alive on the page, creating worlds for them to live in. I hate the editing process; I currently have a sci-fi novel still stuck in the editing phase.
WOW: I think a lot of us can relate to feeling stuck with our writing. I hope you can wedge yourself out of that one—don’t give up on your novel! What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?
Rohana: I’m reading two books: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman. I’m reading both of these books because I loved Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train and Backman’s Bear Town. Totally different stories by totally different writers, but, man, those two writers really know how to present a story with characters who are truly alive.
WOW: Wonderful! Thanks for the recommendations. In your bio you mention the “complexities of making a living.” I think a lot of writers can relate to that. Can you say more about it and how it has affected your creative writing?
Rohana: Going out into the world, commuting and working all day at a job designed by someone else, wears me out. I don’t have the courage or the stamina to go out on my own, and there is no one else in my life to rely upon to help with the responsibilities of daily living. I’m sad that the very fact of keeping a roof over my head and all that goes with that has thwarted my creative life. I manage to write in fits and starts, but mostly I’m just too tired to think, let alone create. Now, if only I could win the lottery . . .
WOW: Fingers crossed for winning the lottery! But I—and I’m sure plenty of other writers/artists—can understand that struggle of being too tired or too busy from day jobs, and yet somehow we wiggle time into our schedules. It would be interesting to know, though, how creatively productive we could be if we didn’t have to worry about making a living. If you could give other creative writers one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
Rohana: Don’t be like me. Believe in your writing talent and go for it. I wish I had done that when I was in my 20s and people were telling me I was an amazing writer. I didn’t believe them, and so I wandered from this to that, never finding peace because I didn’t become the writer I should have been.
WOW: Thank you for that push. It’s never too late to write, and we hope to see more of your writing in the future. Anything else you’d like to add?
Rohana: I am so thankful that WOW gave me a chance to shine, a chance to showcase what I can do, a chance to write a story that let me be me.
WOW: You are welcome! And thank you 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.