Interview with Bonnie West: Spring 2019 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, November 05, 2019
Bonnie West’s stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including The Minetta Review, Women’s Day and Redbook Magazine. She has a children’s bilingual Japanese/English children’s book Hideki and Kenji Save the Day and Boyfriends, a short story collection from a small press in England, are available on Amazon or at

Before you read her interview, be sure you read her story Book by Book, then come on back!

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, I loved your story Book by Book. I loved how you weaved in the plot lines of other boos into the life of your character! What was the inspiration behind this story?

Bonnie: I first wrote the story about 20 years ago. I was with my husband in a library he frequented often and where I rarely went. I noticed he was all chummy with the librarians and I thought for the first time, wow, I would never know! During the same visit, I found a book on the shelf on affairs, which I thought was serious serendipity. It was an anthology of sorts and I thought again, wow, who would ever tell. And that was the beginning of the story. (I didn’t actually read that book.)

WOW: What an inspirational moment! I have to say how impressed I am with how you wrapped up this story. How did your story transform from the first draft to the final draft?

Bonnie: I am not certain how many revisions it went through, but there were many. And I think the ideas for the affairs came to me from simply thinking about affairs and all their convolutions: where people have them; what happens how they think they are secretive; how some people really must get away with it and how some people must want to be caught. And actually how many people do really leave for the affair.  In the end I decided since the main character had stated she is looking for her story by being in the library she would have to find it. So the last story I use is more her story although obviously not the same. But she realizes it is the end. Whether or not she is really poisoned by her own husband doesn’t really matter. (I like to think she is!)

WOW: Ha, I love that twist at the end! I loved reading on your website that you are a writer that doesn't write enough but loves writing! What advice would you give to another writer who says the same thing?

Bonnie: I really am that writer who loves writing and doesn’t write enough. I have analysed it and talked to other writers and find it is not such an unusual thing but I am still and always struggling with it. I think part of my problem is thinking that I really should be doing something else. Something like being with friends or cleaning the house or cooking a nice dinner. I also think that is crazy! I should be doing what I really want to do. So that is one thing. Another is that when I get going I write for hours and hours and hours. And I am annoyed if I am interrupted or stopped for whatever reason so I tend to just not start. Good luck. I can only hope that someone who might read this will comment and help me out with this one!

WOW: If you ever find out how let me know. I struggle with the same issue! What writing tip stayed with you the most?

Bonnie: The writing tip I use the most is one I use during revision. (I love revision and revise and cut and revise and cut many times.) Once I have written the story and think maybe it’s finished I look at it and ask myself, what is the story and what is the plot. And always I find good reasons to revise several more times. I see the plot right away but often don’t see the “story” by which I mean, the truth of what I have written. What is it REALLY about? Is it about betrayal? Is it about honesty? Is it about loss? And when I figure that out I can go back and put write some of the more difficult parts. In this story it was not such a problem because the story is I think is less serious than others I write. I wrote a story not so long ago that also was in the top ten at WOW which was called One Side of the Vase and that story was, for me, very difficult and very important to figure out what it was really about opposed to simply the plot.

WOW: That advice helps me a lot actually! What are you currently working on? What can we expect next from you?

Bonnie: I am currently and slowly working on a collection of connected stories. My book, Boyfriends, is a short story collection but they are in no way connected and I would like to have a more cohesive collection (to use the words from Project Runway! Ha)

It takes the characters from my final story in Boyfriends, which is titled, Sunrise, Banana, Chair and gives them a more complex story with lots of other characters involved. It is very definitely in the beginning stages. 

I’m also working on a few stand alone stories written a few years back which I am revising just to get them finished. I have lots to do so I had better get writing. Being runner up in this contest has perhaps given me the boost I need. 

WOW: I am so glad it did! Congratulations again and I can't wait to see what is next for you! 


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