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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

 

Interview with Cassandra Chambers: Summer 2019 Flash Fiction Runner-Up

Cassandra’s Bio:

As a child, Cassandra spent many hours creating and illustrating stories for her amusement. Thankfully, her writing skills have vastly improved since the age of 8, even if her illustrating skills haven’t. As the office manager of a construction company, 

Cassandra’s writing has focused on business and technical writing until recently. Nothing will make you run screaming to the land of make-believe faster than writing a 200-page software instruction manual! She has delved back into her love of storytelling, writing fictional short stories that tend towards the historical, fantasy, and sci-fi genres. 

This summer, stepping out of her introverted comfort zone, she submitted to this contest, and “The Weaver” will be her first published fictional work.
When not herding project managers or writing short stories, Cassandra researches medieval and early modern textiles and foodstuffs with her local living history group. You will also find her busy with knitting, spinning, embroidery, or weaving as she likes to keep her creative options open. Cassandra fully acknowledges her status as a history and fiber arts geek.  You can connect with Cassandra on Twitter @CE_Chambers1 or visit cassandrachambers.wordpress.com.

If you haven't taken the time to read "The Weaver," click on through and then come back here for a conversation with this author. 

WOW: What inspired you to write “The Weaver?”

Cassandra: The inspiration behind this story came from the Van Gogh painting, “The Weaver” from 1884. The painting shows a man at work at a loom in an empty room, but I feel it is also a lonely and sad painting. The story is set in the same time frame the painting was done, when so much of the craft industry was moving to industrial centers. Against this backdrop, the story weaves the love this man has for his family and the recent loss of his wife and intertwines it with his love and respect of his craft.

WOW:  For our readers who aren't familiar with that painting, here is a link. It is definitely a gloomy piece.  How did the story change and grow during the writing process? I’m especially curious whether or not the piece was always in the present tense and what impacted this choice.

Cassandra: The story evolved quite a bit from the original rough draft. At first, it had been written in past tense since the story is set in an earlier time. I felt connection with the main character and when switched to present tense, the story felt more relatable and real. 

This story has always been a short piece, so I played with wording and imagery a lot to make every word as impactful as possible. My family were my test readers and gave me great feedback that definitely enhanced the story.

WOW:  I'm a new weaver myself and I loved the weaving details from your own experience that you pulled into the story. How else does the story draw from your life?

Cassandra: Everyone can relate to a story of the loss of a loved one and how the smallest things will remind you of that person. Since creating art is a very emotional and tactile experience, I wanted to encompass his lifelong weaving craft into his memories and feelings of loss. 

As someone who both spins and weaves, I obviously have a love of fiber arts and pulled from my experiences to add to the narrative. Additionally, I love history and stories about everyday people from the past. I am involved in living history as well as genealogy, both hobbies give interesting introspection into everyday life in the past and helped to influence the story.

WOW:  What do you hope that readers will take away from this story?

Cassandra: Maybe a sniffle and a tear in their eye. I enjoy making connections to the past. Those who lived and worked before us had the same emotions and feelings that we do now. So even if most folks nowadays aren’t sitting at a spinning wheel, they can still connect with the loss of a partner who was loved and participated in their life. People still create art, so even if weaving isn’t your hobby, the feeling of connection with your art or craft is something that is relatable.

WOW: Can you share your long-term writing goals with our readers? Have these goals changed since you placed in this contest?

Cassandra: I entered this contest to make myself step outside my comfort zone and send my writing out into the world. Honestly, I didn’t really expect anything to come of it and about fell out of my chair when selected as a finalist. Being a runner up has given me enough of a confidence boost that I want to focus on improving as a writer. My current objectives are to develop a more consistent writing habit and focus on short form writing with the goal of getting other stories published.

WOW: I am sure our readers are glad that you stepped out of your comfort zone to share your writing. Congratulations again and thank you for sharing your ideas about writing with us. 

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  March 2nd, 2020. 

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2 Comments:

Blogger Renee Roberson said...

Cassandra,
Congratulations on a well-deserved honor. I love that a painting inspired your story! You really took it and made it your own, and I was hooked from the very beginning. You did a great job inserting those small but meaningful details of the craft into a lovely metaphor of longing and loss. And Sue, thank you for the great interview questions.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Renee,
Cassandra made it easy!
--SueBE

8:34 AM  

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