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Tuesday, March 03, 2020

 

Interview with Afsoon Hansia: First Place Winner in Fall 2019 Flash Fiction Contest

Afsoon Hansia is a current doctoral student in Communication researching interpersonal relationships at the University of California Santa Barbara. She has been a writer since as early as she can remember. In fact, she found her kindergarten journal recently while rummaging through her mother’s home where she chronicled her many five-year-old adventures. Although, she often replaced what she wanted to say with “you know” every time she didn’t know how to spell something. Every story ended, well, you know.

From there, she wrote numerous short fiction pieces in elementary and middle school for which she received several Young Author awards. She has only recently been inspired to return to her creative writing roots to take a break from academic writing every once and awhile.

Afsoon is the daughter and granddaughter of Afghan immigrants who migrated during the Cold War to the US. She grew up hearing the stories of her family’s life and escape from Afghanistan, often recounted while collectively mincing, stuffing, and folding various Afghan foods.

Food has always been a way for her to bond with others and has, importantly, always bridged the inter-generational and intercultural divide between her and her grandmother. It continually inspires her to teach her own two young sons about their multi-faceted heritage. Plus, she’s hoping that she can use food to lure her kids back home when they are older.

When Afsoon is not writing or parenting, she loves to go hiking or read a good novel.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your first place win in our Fall 2019 Flash Fiction competition! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Sunday Dinner?” It seems like it may have been inspired by your family’s experiences (and sharing food with loved ones).

Afsoon: Thank you so much! Yes, the piece was inspired by the collective stories of my grandparents and parents, and some of my own experiences moving from place to place. One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting around and folding mantu with my grandmother. In many ways, this story is for her. She has a certain quality, a very quiet strength, that I wanted to capture while also taking something simple, like a home made meal, and exploring the often unnoticed depth, emotion, and intention that can be behind it.

WOW: What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?

Afsoon: While both flash fiction and academic writing can be stimulating and challenging, flash fiction allows me to exercise a much more creative muscle. I love the freedom of exploring different themes rattling around in my head and watching the story that only existed in my mind slowly take shape in an outside medium.

WOW: As a PhD student and busy mom, how do you find time to work on personal writing projects? What works best for you?

Afsoon: Ha, that's a good question! I don't make enough time for it as much as I wish I could, but I try to schedule it in my day as a reward for myself if I have been particularly productive or if I just need a mental break. I see it as a way to balance my life from parenting and academia. If I let it, either of those things can completely consume me, so it's probably a good thing for me to have some hobbies!

WOW: I was delighted to see that you’re doing your studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. I’m a UCSB alum myself, and my daughter is a freshman there now. Is there anything your can tell us about your dissertation topic?

Afsoon: Small world! UCSB is a great school and its been a wonderful place to live the last few years. I'm still in the beginning stages of my dissertation, but I will be trying to understand more about the causes of intimate partner violence and exploring the role communication can play in either prevention or intervention.

WOW: What a great topic to explore. Best of luck with your dissertation! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Afsoon. Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Afsoon: The whole reason why I entered a writing contest was because it gave me an opportunity to write creatively AND a deadline. Otherwise I would just be writing in bits and pieces forever. I would definitely recommend trying out a writing contest to anyone considering it. I haven't had that much creative writing experience so winning first place has been very surreal and has given me the boost of confidence I needed to convince myself to spend more time writing in my future.

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For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.

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