interview by Marcia Peterson
WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Fall 2021 Flash Fiction competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?
Kathleen: I had written "Parasite" before I even knew about the competition. I was so excited about finishing the story that I immediately started searching for open contests. WOW's site spoke to me from the get-go-- I went to an all-women's college, so I love the idea of a site dedicated to women writers.
WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Parasite?”
Kathleen: I wrote the first draft of this story around Halloween. Movies like Rosemary's Baby, Alien, and The Omen were being advertised for the season, so I had those ideas circulating in my head. I also felt inspired by "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Like the main character from Gilman's story, my character is a woman who's motherhood brings her to a dangerous place (both physically and mentally).
Moreover, I liked the idea of taking something traditionally considered the most feminine, natural, and 'womanly' thing--giving birth--and subverting it into something sinister. It seemed like WOW, a forum specifically created for women writers, was the best place to share a story like "Parasite." Who better to judge it than women themselves?
WOW: What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?
Kathleen: Flash fiction makes you think on your feet. How can I get a message across in so few words? What adjectives to use? How can I keep it short, sweet, and to the point--and still make it fun?
It's a thrilling challenge for any writer, I think.
WOW: You finished your first novel (during lockdown, wow!). What did it take to accomplish that big goal? What did you learn along the way?
Kathleen: Persistence is everything. Making time each day to sit down and write was the only reason I finished my first draft. I also think that during lockdown, when everything was so frightening and unsure, having a world to escape into was a God-send.
I learned quite a few things along the way. Namely, that writing long-fiction is a long process, and expecting perfection from early drafts is not only impossible, but also counterproductive. You've gotta chip away at it bit by bit, and make sure that you keep all those fun critical voices in your head at bay. The work will get done if you keep at it, but pace yourself.
WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Kathleen. Before you go, do you have a favorite writing tip or piece of advice you can share?
Kathleen: To quote Winston Bishop from New Girl:
"Nick, it's not that hard, man. Just sit down and write. You ain't Hemingway."
For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.