If you haven't done so already, check out Monique's award-winning story "The Lighthouse Point" and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Winter 2022 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story?
Monique: I was thrilled how the protagonist seemed to tell me his story, and I wrote it down in the same curt manner as it came to mind. I visited the Beavertail Lighthouse of Jamestown, Rhode Island on a family writing retreat. As we toured its museum, the character, Miller, sort of manifested in the lighthouse itself. There was something self-destructive about the lighthouse point, which translated well into Miller’s character.
WOW: I love that idea of taking a family writing retreat! And it sounds like it was quite productive for you. What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece?
Monique: It reminded me not to limit my lens or my audience. Who I am as a person need not dictate the point-of-view I write from. As a woman of color, I naturally gravitate towards writing protagonists of color, and expanding literary representation is important. However, I am excited to let a story flow from a completely different lens than my own. Miller is a middle-aged man from Rhode Island whose flawed romantic perspective provides a bit of perspective for all women.
WOW: In what ways does your theater work inform your other forms of creative writing or vice versa?
Monique: As a stage director, my job is to help the audience experience the conflicts and victories alongside the onstage characters. I incorporate credible movement, meaning, and motivation to the script to bring the words on paper to life onstage. When I moved into creative writing, the job was the same: bring text to life. However, the stage is now the readers’ imaginations. The ability of my audience to see the story is contingent on my ability to craft the story on page as I would direct the movement onstage.
WOW: That is such an insightful and useful analysis! Thank you for sharing those connections. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?
Monique: Right now, I’m re-reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and narrated by J.K. Simmons. It’s a humorous novel, and I am reading it again to dissect the craft of its point-of-view. It is written in third-person limited, but the voice is as strong as first-person POV. I hope to capture a similar strength in the third-person novel I’m writing now.
WOW: Thank you for sharing that – I think it’s so helpful to hear how other writers read texts as writers and not just as readers. If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why?
Monique: I would tell the young writer in me to read more. I'm a working mother of four, and when I became a mom twenty-eight years ago, I told myself I was too busy to sit down with a book. It wasn’t until a near breakdown that I chose reading as a mental escape over meds. The reading revival catapulted my writing skills, and before I knew it, I was writing for the page as I had done for the stage. Had I been an avid reader all along, I would have been writing novels years earlier.
WOW: Books, writing, and storytelling are magical in so many ways. Thank you for illustrating that and for your other thoughtful responses! Happy writing!