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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Interview with Q4 2019 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest Runner Up, Corinne Mahoney

Corinne Mahoney is a mother, writer, and communications professional. She lives in Massachusetts with her three middle school aged children and an elderly cat who is a glutton for affection. Despite the messes and emotions inherent in those categories of living companions, she wouldn’t have it any other way. They are daily proof that light and levity can trump darkness.

She’s written fiction—mostly of the dark, twisted, and bad variety—since she learned to put pen to paper but somehow kept letting “life” get in the way of strong writing habits. A friend mentioned switching genres can cure writer’s block, so she’s been dabbling in creative nonfiction and poetry for the last few years. It was solid advice.

She believes places and objects are best thought of as writing prompts, and the only thing joyless to write is an author bio. She has a twisted little piece published in The Molotov Cocktail and a personal essay forthcoming in Spry Literary Journal. Many moons (9 years!) ago she placed first in a WOW Flash Fiction, and she’s beyond thrilled to have this essay recognized by WOW.

Corinne's story is unfortunately one that many women will relate to all too well. Read it here and then return to learn more about her writing process.

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

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in the Q4 WOW! Creative Nonfiction Contest. I will admit, I had a hard time reading your entry. It was so powerful and I felt such empathy for you throughout, which are the hallmarks of great writing. And believe it or not, I also remember reading your award-winning flash fiction piece back in the day. So let's get started. How did you get the idea to structure “Inventory” around the list of items found in your relationship/marriage with your ex-husband?

Corinne: A couple of years ago, a writer friend of mine invited me to join with a few of her other friends to respond to a monthly writing prompt for several months. We'd all read each other's work and vote for a winner who could pick the next prompt. The prompt that led to this piece was "possession." I started to list possessions, and eventually the draft morphed into an earlier version of this piece. That was the one month my piece was voted the winner! So, that gave me the confidence to keep revising and working on it; although I put it aside for a long time before returning to it.

WOW: I can understand that--writing can be such a cathartic process. Did you have any additional realizations about your relationship that came upon you as you were writing/editing this piece?

Corinne: Yes, so many. One was my own capacity to accept and rationalize what was happening. That haunts me now.

WOW: You’ve found success in getting published in a few different literary journals. Do you have any tips for writers who are looking to have their work (fiction or nonfiction) published in these types of publications?

Corinne: Find time to write. Find a few readers and really listen to their feedback. If you can, take some writing workshops. Also, try putting a piece aside and coming back to it months later. I am so much better at revising my own work when I have some distance on the piece. And, finally simply submit. I need to take that advice too! I have a long way to go with my own writing goals.

WOW: What is your dream writing project if you had all the time in the world to devote to it (whether dark and twisty or not)?

Corinne: Ooooo, I love this question. Definitely a novel-length literary horror story.

WOW: Who are some authors that have inspired your own brand of writing? 

Corinne: Graham Greene. I love how he uses imagery and dialogue. Stephen King. I grew up devouring his books, which might explain my love of all things dark. And, Shuly Cawood. A friend and incredible writer whose work inspired me to take a stab at creative nonfiction.

WOW: Thanks again, Corinne, and we hope to read more of your work soon. 

1 comment:

  1. Renee--Thanks for doing this interview, and for providing the link to Corinne's story.

    Corinne--Congratulations! Yes, Renee is right. Many women can identify with this story. I remember fighting my ex-husband over a three-album set--Diana Ross and the Supremes as we divvied up stuff. He won. However, what we didn't even bother to discuss was my daughter. That one was an automatic win.

    Corinne--If you like Stephen King, how about his son Joe Hill? I find his just as twisted (if not more so) than his father. His novel NOS4A2 is my favorite. It kept me at the edge of my seat--creepy and compelling--from the beginning to the end.

    Congratulations again. I loved how the whole of your "awful" got revealed via small details here and there.

    Keep writing, and keep submitting.


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