Meet Melanie Bell, Fall 2018 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Melanie Bell launched her marketing technology firm in 2014 after working for a startup accelerator in Houston. This followed undergraduate studies in international development at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she stayed to acquire several years’ marketing experience, and an MBA at Rice University.

Born in Long Beach, California and raised in Houston, Texas, Melanie has traveled to places as far and varied as Venezuela, Rwanda, Cambodia, China, and Sardinia. She prefers to stay away from tourist traps and takes to the backstreets to sample authentic cuisine and culture.

To hone her writing skills while continuing to run her business, Melanie recently began entering writing competitions and joining local writing workshops. She is a voracious reader, digesting a wide mix of fiction and nonfiction, often biographical and historical. Maybe one day she will write a novel. She balances work life with her husband, two step-kids, and a contentedly overweight tabby called Lenny.

Read Melanie's story, "Blueberry Bonds," and then return here to learn more about the author.

----------Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Hello, Melanie, and congratulations on placing again with this moving story! It seems workshops and writing competitions are helping you hone your craft. What are some of your favorite resources for finding classes and contests?

Melanie: There are a few local groups that offer a fantastic lineup of classes and workshops as well as other events with a literary focus. Inprint and Writespace immediately come to mind. I also have a tab set up on my Flipboard account for creative writing, and that feed pulls in various contests, which is how I found out about WOW!

WOW: What is your favorite line from “Blueberry Bonds?”

Melanie: I have two! "Uncooked blueberry pie sludged toward the floor" simply because I love the word sludged. I also spent a lot of time developing the characters, 99.9% of which didn't end up in the story, so I also loved including this tidbit about Emmie's grandma: "Every night, her grandmother took a small bourbon to the bedroom to read trashy magazines."

WOW: Yes, I agree that those are two great lines. Sludged is awesome. You mentioned you enjoy reading a wide variety of titles. We’d love to hear about what books are currently on your nightstand.

Melanie: Ha! Far too many if there is such a thing. My husband and I are slightly concerned my books are breeding. I have a few anthologies/compilations (Didion, Cheever, Chekhov), a book about linguistics, a biography of the fascinating Gertrude Bell (no relation as far as I know), and about five new historical fictions that just arrived like The Gown, The Forgotten Garden, and The Watermelon Boys.

WOW: As you travel extensively, have any of your travels inspired short stories or essays? We’d love to hear details!

Melanie: There's so much great material to pick up while traveling - from random people you encounter, different weather, scenery, food, and changes in dynamics with the people with whom you're traveling. I entered a short story contest run by a new group called Prolitfic earlier this year and focused my entry it around a family on a summer vacation in Los Angeles, which is where I spent lots of my summers as a kid. However, I wanted to highlight some of the stresses of family trips as I'm now experiencing them as a stepmom to a teen and a tween. I used it as an opportunity to explore the trip from both points of view (parent and child), though both are relatively dislikeable and misunderstood characters. There are more things in the works that are related to my travels, but I'm keeping them in stealth mode for the moment!

WOW: I agree! I think having marketing background helps you write and pitch stories in a special way, too. Speaking of you having a marketing background, including an MBA, when did you first discover your love of creative writing?

Melanie: This is a new love of mine, just within the past year or so. Though, as I've been writing more, I've recalled several childhood memories of writing short stories that I enjoyed. One was about someone who had no friends and whose family had rejected him. I think about 3 pages of it were about his very lonely existence and then 3 pages were about him dying. I'm shocked my creative writing teacher didn't send me to the school counselor, but all the girls in my class had written very dark, psychological pieces, so it must have been a phase we were all going through at the time. The other short story I remember writing with a friend was about how I was going to meet Prince Harry and how we'd fall in love and get married. Perhaps this counts as fan fiction?! I wish I'd held onto these pieces. It'd be so much fun to dig them out now and reread them.

WOW: The past year or so? That's incredible! I'm sure we'll see more of your work in the future. Sending you happy writing vibes!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Thanks for doing this interview. (The "favorite lines" was a great question.)

Melanie--Your "sludged" line, along with the tidbit about the grandmother--was incredible. I wish you luck in your future writing.

You've done lots of traveling. What has been the # 1 spot, and why is it # 1?

Lynn Nicholas said...

Great job, Melanie. The image of blueberry pies hitting the bakery floor was quite something. Love the ending. Being needed, belonging to someone...that's huge.

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