Interview with Alicia Starr Cook: Runner Up in the Winter 2020 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Alicia is from Melbourne, Australia. She works as an editor and proofreader and has been a contributing writer for video games and comic books. Alicia has studied photography and journalism and currently lives in Portugal.

Make sure you read Alicia's story Lime Cordial and come on back and read her interview.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all, congratulations for winning runner up in the flash fiction contest! I noticed in your bio that you are a contributing writer for video games and comic books. How does that type of writing contribute to your fiction?

Alicia: Well, I think any type of writing that I do contributes to my own creative work. The comic books and video games are collaborative, and I find that I learn a lot about technique and style from the other writers that I work with. I like working on the comic books especially because the writing I do for them is mostly dialogue and that has helped me learn more about creating characters with depth. The volumes are quite long too, so being able to work on a story that is continuously evolving and unfolding has shown me ways in which I can expand on my own work- which tends to be quite short.

WOW: I completely agree - any type of writing contributes to creative work! I loved the voice in this piece. It's almost as if this character is writing a letter to a long-lost friend. What was the inspiration behind this story?

Alicia: This story was partially based on a memory from my own childhood. I created the character of the boy and wrote the story as more of a reflection that was written to him, because I often wonder about the people who were in my life at that time and how they coped with what was happening around us, and where they ended up. I thought that approaching the subject of domestic violence in this way would show how the children who are caught up in it are affected, and how it transfers to their adult life. It’s an idea I would like to expand on in future too.

WOW: I really hope you do. It's a powerful piece. What is your rewriting and revising technique after you've written the first draft?

Alicia: After writing a first draft I usually put it away for a week or so and work on something else. Giving myself some space from the piece helps me to be more objective when I come back to revise it. The second draft I either send to a writer friend to look over or I read it out to anyone who’ll listen. After that I do spend a lot of time going over and over the work, sometimes obsessively, but especially for short pieces like this one it’s important to make sure that every word is working how you intend it to. It’s something that I’m still learning how to do.

WOW: I love your process! You have such vivid sensory details in this piece! Can you tell me a bit about your writing process to create such vivid scenes?

Alicia: Thank you! I’m not sure how it fits into my process, but I’m inspired by literature with rich imagery like The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy for instance, and I read a lot of poetry. I think the details of what surrounds the characters in a story add just as much emotion as dialogue- which is probably why I tend to shy away from writing dialogue and focus on the corner of world where the story is taking place instead. And in life, those sensory details that we remember from a situation can come to represent a particular feeling that we experienced at that time, and that’s something I really want to express within my writing.

WOW: Yes! I completely agree. Sensory detail can definitely bring us back to a time in our life! What are you currently working on that you can tell us a bit about?

Alicia: At the moment I’m working on trying to write longer stories, and also shorter pieces. That sounds contradictory I know, but I’m trying to find a happy place in between fiction and the kind of prose that I like to write. Eventually I’ll put some things up on a website/portfolio that I’m working on getting together too. There’ll be some of my photographs on there as well. I’m using the Cargo Collective platform and the site will be called becauseilikeyou. I hope to have it up in a couple of weeks.

WOW: I can't wait! That sounds amazing. So, what surrounds you when you write?

Alicia: When I write I always have a pot of tea or coffee on the desk in front of me, I can’t get through without it and find that I get too distracted if I have to get up to make another cup. My dream would be to have a never ending mug of tea, similar to Norman Lindsay’s Magic Pudding, though hopefully not sentient because I couldn't deal with that morally. Lately I’ve taken to surrounding myself with the notebooks that I write in. This has become part of my process as I write, because I find it helpful to look through ideas that I’ve jotted down in the past. I use the notebooks while I type too, to physically tease out different ways of writing out a thought. It might seem a little chaotic from the outside, but it helps me organise my thoughts and get to the heart of what I’m trying to say. I usually have a book or journal lying around too, for when I need to take a break from my voice for a minute. And I listen to music. It depends on my mood but I’ll listen to everything from Sun Ra to Haruomi Hosono or David Bowie or Dorothy Ashby. I can write for hours when I find the right rhythm, and music certainly helps with that.

WOW: I love that! I can just picture your writing setting. It sounds inspirational. Congratulations again and we can't wait to see what you have next!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Nicole--Thanks for doing this interview, and for providing a link to Alicia's story. Your "What surrounds you when you write?" was a great question.

Alicia--Congrats on snagging one of the runner up spots. I know the competetion when it comes to WOW's contests is stiff. (I speak from experience. I entered one, and when I crashed and burned, I realized why--when I read the winners and the runners-up.)

I loved the spot where you left a chunk unsaid. You began a paragraph with, "After the police left..." What a brilliant choice.

I'm with Nicole. I'd love to see this expanded. A short story? A YA novel? You choose. However, when readers choose your voice as one to embrace, it should tell you something: You have a voice and a story that needs to be heard and shared...

Again, congratulations and good luck with your future writing.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Congratulations Alicia on being a runner up in the Winter Flash Fiction Contest. Your story, Lime Cordial, conveyed a powerful message. I too hope you expand it so readers can follow their journey and find out how an incident of domestic violence affected their choices in life.

This was a great interview Nicole.

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