Interview with Martha Goddard, Runner Up in the WOW! Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Martha Goddard is a freelance writer, director and content creator for short and long-form drama. A graduate from the Australian Film Television and Radio School’s Masters programme, Martha has directed commercials, documentaries and award-winning short films that have screened at over thirty film festivals around the world. “Marigold” is Martha’s first work of flash-fiction but it’s definitely not her last, having recently discovered a passion for prose. Martha has a keen eye for the absurdity of modern life and enjoys writing about relatable, flawed female protagonists with a fiery spirit and a mischievous streak. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Martha is currently collaborating on a kids book series inspired by her curious two-year-old daughter. You can view more of Martha’s work at, or follow her on Instagram @mcgmartha.

Read Martha's captivating story, "Marigold," here and then return to learn more about the author.

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

WOW: Congratulations again, Martha, and welcome! One of the things that stands out the most about “Marigold” is how well developed the two main characters are. What was the revision process like as you worked to paint them so vividly?

Martha: The revision process involved a dogged whittling away of words until it was stripped back to the bare essentials. I had a lot of story I wanted to squeeze into 700 words. I started with 1,500. It’s such a discipline, how not to over-simplify the story itself but rather the way it’s told. Editing devours time. For me it can be double or triple what it takes to write the work itself.

WOW: I'm impressed that you were essentially able to cut this story in half! There is a definite art form to writing and editing flash pieces. What type of writing do you do as a content creator for short and long-form drama?

Martha: Primarily it involves screenwriting short or feature length projects, pitch documents, project treatments and development notes. I’m currently working on two projects; All Our Eggs is a nine-part series of short fifteen-minute episodes about a couple’s five-year-journey through infertility, riding the highs and lows of IVF with lashings of dark humour. The other project is a feature length screenplay, a science-fiction love story. Both projects are self-initiated works that have attracted development funding through various state and national filmmaking initiatives. Writing prose and flash-fiction is something new for me.

WOW: Those both sound like amazing works-in-progress. I'm curious as to how were you drawn into writing flash fiction, as it differs from the type of work you normally do?

Martha: I was gifted an online creative writing course for Christmas last year. At first, I was hesitant - I’m a time-poor new mum juggling freelance work, the last thing I needed was more pressure on my time, right? But I had to use it or lose it. And I loved it! The course was a wonderful opportunity to fill up the creative tank and learn a new skill, focusing on descriptive prose which is very different to screenwriting. The structure of the course helped enormously, and I created a host of new characters, like Marigold and Tiger, some of which I hope to keep developing. I’m now inspired to continue writing flash fiction, it’s a great way to road-test new ideas or characters, and to be playful with form.

WOW: I love this. I feel like these types of gifts are so welcome to writers at any level, because they can learn new forms, as you did. (Hint, hint to any partners/friends/loved ones of writers out there reading this interview!) We’d love to hear more about the children’s book series you’re currently collaborating on. Could you tell us a little about how that process is going?

Martha: The Adventures of Ellie and Alfred is a kid’s picture book series inspired by having a two-year-old daughter Evie, who LOVES books. She recites lines and imitates characters. It’s gosh-darn cute but more than that, she is a sponge right now, absorbing the attitudes, themes and expectations depicted within these books. They matter. And because we buy a lot of second-hand books from thrift stores, I’ve been confronted with example of outdated gender-roles and cultural limitations. Yes, there are some timeless gems in the mix but also a lot of problematic messaging. I got talking about this with a friend over lunch who happens to be an insanely talented artist and illustrator, Danielle O’Brien. We started brainstorming ideas for a story that blurs gender roles and embraces diversity. Something that explores a range of textured, artistic expressions for big emotions that kids might have a hard time putting into words. Feelings like frustration, rejection, anticipation, love. Then we created our leading lady, Ellie. She’s a bright, imaginative, trickster full of big ideas that sparks wayward adventures with her neighbour, Alfred. Set in their backyards with Ellie’s two dads, Alfred’s single mum and a pen full of chickens as supporting characters. Once we agreed on an idea for our first story, I completed a written draft for Danielle to work with. I really appreciate how picture books depend so much on the images to capture a child’s imagination so it’s an entirely collaborative process from this point on. The way her images reveal story, directly affects the way I revise the text. We’re thrilled to see the first draft taking shape.

WOW: That's so interesting about the outdated gender roles in the older picture books. Picture books like yours are definitely taking the industry by storm right now so best of luck to you and your illustrator friend! What advice would you offer to writers who are considering tackling the short story/flash fiction form?

Martha: Personally, my approach is to spend time developing the characters. I empathise with them, love them, and then try to give them absolute hell. I think it’s a truism of life that we often have to be pushed or pulled kicking and screaming towards meaningful change and emotional growth. But that’s also what’s so compelling to read or watch.

I’ve misplaced the source of this excellent advice, but I’ll share it anyway. For anyone having trouble making time to write - have an affair (with your writing). Sneak off, tell white lies if you have to, and gift yourself secret pockets of time in strange places. Whatever it takes to spark that hunger. And being time poor can mean there’s not enough time for your inner critic to get in the way. Works for me, (well, sometimes.)

WOW: Ah, I love that last bit of sage advice! Making time to write creatively is so rewarding when we finally get around to doing it--I love your suggestion to treat it as an illicit activity! May you continue to have a mutually beneficial love affair with your writing!


Anonymous said...

Renee--Thanks for posting this interview, and for giving us a link to Martha's story.

Martha--What a great story. I loved the way you ended it. And your advice about treating writing like an affair is superb. (Maybe I need to check into questionable motel for a few hours and get some writing done? ;)

Congratulations, and good luck on your future projects.

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