Interview with Lisa Bodenheim: 2018 Fall Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Lisa’s Bio:
Lisa Bodenheim, a native of Minnesota, always thought she'd be a romance writer. But after a 10-day study journey to Chiapas, Mexico, her first book was Disturbing Complacency: Preparing for Christmas, published by Wild Goose Publications. Over the past few years, she has studied the craft of writing through blogs, has entered several 100-word flash fiction contests (snagging a few mentions but no wins), and in 2018, attended a weekend workshop at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. She is now at work on a novel, searching for plot holes and getting to know the characters more in depth. Learn more at her website

If you haven't done so already, check out Lisa's award-winning story "The Oak and the Boomerang Daughter" and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Fall 2018 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story?

Lisa: I enjoyed juxtaposing my interest (and research) about oak savannas and fire ecology—and using an oak tree point-of-view—with the reality of the millennial generation—the boomerang daughter with a huge college debt, who lives with her mama, the two of them forging a new adult relationship.

WOW: Did you learn anything about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece?

Lisa: I entered this story in another contest with a different agency a few years ago and saved that version. When I brought it up again to work on it for WOW, I cringed a bit at some of my grammar. For example, the story was abundantly filled with ing verbs. Patience and time, reading published stories and having critique partners is definitely helpful to get fresh eyes on my writing projects so I can tell the story better.

WOW: I love to hear that you persisted and didn’t give up on your story! Can you tell us more about the novel you’re writing? What method(s) do you use to get to know your characters in more depth?

Lisa: It’s a braided story with two protagonists—a young millennial woman whose extended family polarizes over the censor on her cousin who was attacked and an East Prussian woman caring for her teen brother and baby niece on the eve of WWII. The focus is on the effect of violence, particularly in the form of societal censors, and how silencing voices can fragment families and communities.

Through my critique partners, I’ve learned that I’m not good at getting emotional reactions of my characters on the page of my first drafts.

Somewhere in my studies on the craft of writing, I read about Motivation Reaction Units. To study MRUs, I’ve used Randy Ingermanson’s (the Snowflake Guy) blog, Advanced Fiction Writer, and KM Weiland’s blog, Helping Writers Become Authors. Hopefully, using this method to burrow into my characters' heads will help me bring out more emotions and subtext.

WOW: Intriguing summary and great resources! Thank you for sharing those with us. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Lisa: Well-Read Black Girl, edited by Glory Edim, founder of the organization by the same name. I’m a white woman who grew up in a small all-white community. Yet now I work and live in communities with diverse people of color. There's so much I need to learn because I don’t know what it means to walk in the shoes of a black person. I can only guess and intellectualize and empathize. I want to depict diverse cultures in my stories without harmful stereotypes, doing my small part to envision communities of hope and laughter, joy and justice.

WOW: Not an easy task, but a very worthy goal. If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why?

Lisa: Persist. Write down your ideas. There are stories all around us.

WOW: Great advice! Anything else you’d like to add?

Lisa: Thank you for this opportunity to polish my short story and enter WOW’s contest! The ability to get feedback and reading through the winner’s lists have been great.

WOW: You are very welcome! Thank you again for sharing your stories and for your other thoughtful responses! Congratulations again, and 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.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Anne--Thanks for doing this interview.

Lisa--Congratulations. What an interesting story. The intertwining of trees into the tale makes this quite unique.

Persistence... It's such a crucial characteristic when it comes to writers, isn't it.

I have fallen in love with the "Emotion Thesaurus." It helps me show rather than tell. If you're not familiar with it, you look up an emotion, and there is a page or two of physical displays of that emotion.

Good luck with your future writing.

Lisa Bodenheim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Bodenheim said...

Thank you, Sioux. I've heard of "Emotion Thesaurus." Now you've given me more reason to want to purchase.

And, after reading your blog post today, I look forward to your reflection here on The Muffin tomorrow!

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