Victoria Melekian lives in Carlsbad, California with her husband, their very old dog, a collection of glass doorknobs, and a dusty stenograph machine that takes floppy disks—she retired from court reporting a couple of years ago to help with her son’s business.
Her passion has always been words. Various literary magazines and anthologies have published her stories and poems in print and online. She’s twice won a San Diego Book Award, was a runner-up in the 2018 Bath Flash Fiction Novella-in-Flash Award, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her story “What I Don’t Tell Him” aired on NPR. To read her work, visit her site.
If you haven't taken the time to read her story, "Something to Salvage," click on the link here and give yourself an early Christmas present. Then come back here for a conversation with this author.
WOW: This story will resonate with so many of our readers. What was your inspiration for this piece of flash fiction?
Victoria: The story is fiction, but it’s true that my husband and I were traveling home to San Diego from San Francisco one Saturday and I asked him to drive by his old house because I wanted to see it. And then, well, you know how it is, I started thinking wouldn’t it be weird if his ex-wife was outside watering the lawn or holding a garage sale when we rolled past. She wasn’t, of course, but it gave me the idea.
WOW: With the initial focus on garage sales, “Something to Salvage” did not go in the direction I expected. How did you know this was the right opening for the story?
Victoria: You glean a lot about people when you start pawing through their treasures. That’s when I realized the possibilities I could play with if I created a garage sale scenario—I’d have a reason for the two characters to meet and interact and I could choose the items for sale.
WOW: You must have chosen these items for a purpose. In flash fiction, every detail has a job to do. How did you decide which details to use and the figurative role these images would play?
Victoria: I needed something meaningful for my character to find and that’s when I thought of the trophy. It seemed like something that could end up in a box full of stuff out in a garage along with old board games and glass jars.
I just kept picturing those jars spread out on a table. Something about their emptiness fascinated me. As I got into the story I played with smashing them all onto the concrete, but decided pushing one to the ground was enough.
WOW: From a novella to short stories and poetry, your work is highly varied. Is there a common thread that runs through your writing? How do you choose what to write next?
Victoria: I write about circumstances humans contend with: families and illness and betrayal and happiness and death. Sometimes I focus on elements from my life I might be questioning. I find giving some of my emotions to a fictional character helps me work my way through things. As for what to write next, I run with whatever snippet, line, or image has the most energy for me.
WOW: What can you tell us about your current projects as well as your long term writing goals?
Victoria: I’m always playing with a poem or two, and I have a few stories in various stages. Recently I’ve been thinking about trying something longer again, maybe another novella in flash or linked stories. I’d love to put all my poems together in a lovely slim volume that someone might buy to put on a coffee table, preferably in a room with a view.
WOW: I can definitely see your work coming together in such a meaningful way. Thank you for sharing your insights with our readers. Congratulations again and, to everyone who is celebrating, Merry Christmas!
Interview by Sue Bradford Edwards. To find out more about her writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey. Sue is also the instructor for Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins January 6th, 2020.