Interview with E.M. Walton, Runner-Up in the Winter 2021 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, August 03, 2021
E.M. Walton grew up in upstate New York, spending summers with her family on the Rideau Canal in Ontario, Canada. She has spent the last 20 years in education, first as a special education teacher and currently as a school administrator. E.M. recently completed her Ed.D. in Executive Leadership. She has one self-published novel, Echo Island, and is currently revising her latest work, which she hopes to publish traditionally. Her passion for writing has followed her since she was a child and will continue for many years to come. E.M. is happiest when she is spending time with her husband of 25 years and three (mostly) grown children. Visit her website.

----------Interviewed by Sue Bradford Edwards----------

WOW: Some writers start with character. Some with a situation. What was the inspiration for “In the Blood”? 

E.M.: "In the Blood" was inspired by true events. My son actually did locate my biological half sister through a DNA test. It was fictionalized by combining a few different things that really happened, and adding some fictional details, into the one scene of the story. 

WOW: That is a tricky balance, telling when to base something on life and when to fictionalize.  A lot of the work involved in writing is rewriting. How did this story change through the rewrite process? 

E.M.: I had trouble with the ending, because there is so much more that would happen afterwards. But I wanted to keep it as a simple one-scene snapshot into one of the myriad ways individuals are learning about their past that was never possible before these DNA kits came about. I also wanted to frame the story, so the side story of the car lease provided a good opportunity for that. 

WOW: You included this frame, but in flash every word, every detail matter. Why did you choose to start the story where you did? How did you choose what to leave out? 

E.M.: I actually tried to start the story in several different places before settling on the parking lot of a burger joint. There was something about the mundane normalcy of waiting on a child in a parking lot, flipping through a phone that contrasted so well with the life-changing news received in that scene. It is so often how we receive big news in real life so I really liked being able to use it. What to leave out can be so difficult. As writers, we think that every word we write is critical, but it is amazing to learn how much more can be said with less sometimes. 

WOW: Leaving space for the writer is something I'm still learning to do in fiction. What advice do you have for our readers who may be hesitant to attempt flash? 

E.M.: I have found writing flash fiction to be an incredible opportunity for growth as a writer. It is easy to write at length, but when there is a significant limit on your word count, you exercise a different writing muscle. Every sentence has to be considered for "double duty". Word choice becomes so important. Flash has given me the chance to look closely at how I structure sentences and find ways to tighten my writing overall. 

WOW: In addition to writing flash, you have one novel that you’ve published and another for which you are seeking representation. Why did you decide to look for an agent at this time? 

E.M.: I knew so much less when I decided to self publish my first novel. I still love that story, but I wish I had been more skilled in the revision process. I also did not have the ability to market it effectively. At the time I was working full-time and raising young children. Since I am still working and my job is demanding, I need to look at traditional publishing so that my newest novel has an opportunity to reach a greater audience. I would not rule out the idea of self publishing again, but I would need to be sure I could make the time commitment necessary to adequately market my work. My goal is to find an agent that I can establish a long-term relationship with and retire early to devote more time to what I love - writing!

WOW: Good luck in your search for an agent!  Meanwhile, we hope you keep working on your flash fiction! 


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