Dawn McCaig is an Assistant Crown Attorney who prosecutes all manner of serious crime. She escapes the stress of her professional life by writing fiction. She lives in Nipissing District, Ontario, Canada.
If you haven't read her story, "In Bloom," take a moment to do so and then come back to learn about how she writes.
------interview by Sue Bradford Edwards------
WOW: “In Bloom” is such a chilling piece. What was the inspiration behind this story?
Dawn: My work as a criminal prosecutor has definitely influenced my writing. I’ve never had a case with a body buried under the front shrubs, but I do deal with chilling fact patterns, including homicides, on a regular basis. My professional life is very satisfying, but it immerses me in the worst the world has to offer, so I’m not surprised my imagination treads dark waters.
WOW: Your work definitely seems to fuel your writing. Revision is a vital part of the writing process. How did “In Bloom” change from the first draft to the last?
Dawn: The first draft of the story had looser language; it was too « flowery. » I cut around 100 words, and when I read it now I still see 10 more I probably should have tossed.
WOW: Because it is so short, many details don’t make it into a flash fiction story. We don’t know, for example, this history of Miranda and Nigel’s marriage. How did you decide which details to include in the story?
Dawn: The word limit made me a vicious editor; if something didn’t further the plot or theme I (hopefully) deleted it. I left most of the details of the marital disputes out to create some moral ambiguity - should Miranda have killed Nigel? Did he deserve it? From her perspective, yes to both, but we’ll never really know.
WOW: Individual words in your story, including exhume, bone-white, and sinew, help create the dark tone. What advice do you have for our readers about using word-choice to create a mood?
Dawn: I’m not sure I have a lot of advice to offer, but I do think it’s good practice to figure out the mood you want to evoke with your work, and to sit in that mindset for a few minutes before you start drafting.
For this story, I reached for language that describes graveyards and corpses because they provoke feelings of darkness and unease.
WOW: What are your writing plans for the future? Can you tell our readers where else they can see your work?
Dawn: Confession: I love writing fiction, but I have only just started letting other people read it. This is my first published piece and I am beyond delighted. I do have a draft of a novel nearly finished, so we’ll see what becomes of it. It’s a courtroom murder mystery, of course.
WOW: Good luck finalizing the draft of your novel! Murder and a mystery seem to be right up your alley.