Interview with Linda Davis, Runner-up in the WOW! Summer 2021 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Linda’s Bio: 

Linda Davis is the author of Food Fight, a forthcoming middle grade novel in which an overnight class trip becomes a survival mission for a boy living with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), a little-known eating disorder often characterized as “extreme picky eating.” Food Fight will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2023. 

Linda holds master’s degrees in social work and developmental psychology and is passionate about the need for accurate and accessible mental health information in children’s literature. She lives in Northbrook, Illinois with her family and more books than she can ever possibly read. 

If you haven't read her story, Almost, click on through here and then come back to hear how Linda writes her winning stories.

-----interview by Sue Bradford Edwards-----

WOW:  What was the inspiration for Almost? 

Linda: A mother’s job is to keep her kids safe, and at the same time, confidently send them into the world. It’s a tough balancing act. 

When my daughters were young, I learned that some families use a secret word system for protecting their children from potential abductors. I never introduced the idea to my own family, as I was sure it would freak my kids out. But the concept has always stayed with me, especially as my daughters launched into the world, becoming primarily responsible for their own safety. 

WOW: How did your concerns for the mental health of young people impact Almost? 

Linda: Part of good mental health is the ability to recognize when we are not being treated well in a relationship. As kids’ lives become increasingly complicated and private, we have less ability to assess and influence their decision-making, especially when so much socializing happens online. Another important indicator of good mental health is the ability to seek out help when necessary. I wanted to write a smart character who finally recognizes that she is in a dangerous situation and then reaches out appropriately. 

WOW: So much of writing flash is about choosing what details to include and what to leave out. How did you pick what would stay and what would go in Almost? For example, we don’t know the protagonist’s name. 

Linda: My original plan was to write this story in a much longer form, but I realized that the details of how this relationship evolved were not as compelling as the course of action the protagonist takes to save herself. Unfortunately, we all have seen situations like this play out in real life, and while I wanted Almost to feel very specific to my character’s experience, my primary goal was to write a story with a universal theme. 

By leaving out names and details about the setting, I was able to focus on my character’s increasing awareness of what was happening to her life and the fact that she had the power to choose something else. 

WOW: Rewriting is a vital part of the writing process. Can you tell our readers how “Almost” changed from first draft to final product? 

Linda: Almost was originally very short, and I was worried that by cutting it further, I might lose the essence of the story. But I think it works well as a tighter piece. 

WOW: You have a middle grade novel coming out in 2023. Congratulations! How are you preparing for the release of Food Fight and what are you working on now? 

Linda: My middle grade novel, Food Fight, will be released by Fitzroy Press, an imprint of Regal House Publishing, in 2023. Food Fight is a contemporary story in which an overnight class trip becomes a survival mission for a boy living with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), a little-known eating disorder often characterized as “extreme picky eating.” Like all new experiences, preparing for the launch of my book is both exciting and daunting. In the meantime, I’m working on a YA ghost story and trying not to scare myself too much.

WOW:  Realistic fiction and ghost stories!  Your writing covers a lot of ground.  Good luck on the launch of Food Fight and on your current project.


Renee Roberson said...

Thank you for this interview, Sue, and congratulations to Linda! This story really hit home hard for me. I wrote a short story called "The Name You're Not Supposed to Call Women" several years ago with this theme. It was inspired by a very similar relationship to what you describe--it all happened during my senior year when I was dating an older, local college student. He isolated me from my friends and discouraged me from going to that state school so I would stay near him. I didn't know that emotional abuse was even a thing. Unfortunately, I was not as wise as your character until halfway through my freshman year of college. I love your ending of the character using a "safe word" with her mother--my own mother never had a clue what was going on in my relationship until years later because I kept it hidden. And as the mom of a daughter with sensory processing disorder and a "picky" eater, I also look forward to checking out "Food Fight."

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