Interview With Samantha Ryan, Winter 2022 Flash Fiction Runner-Up

Tuesday, August 09, 2022


I'm excited to interview Samantha Ryan, one of our runners-up in the Winter 2022 Flash Fiction contest. Make sure you read her story Do I? and come on back to read the interview. 

First, a bit about Samantha: 

Samantha Ryan is a writer originally from Tulsa, OK. She earned a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Tulsa and has been writing fiction ever since. Currently, she is working to get her first novel, Fable, published. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their needy cat, two huskies and half a dozen plants she’s barely keeping alive. Connect with her on Instagram @samryanreally.

--- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First, congrats on winning runner-up! You say so much with the ending of your story. When you first started this story, did you know how it would end?

Samantha: No, I didn't. I think the excitement of writing flash is condensing a scene down to the bare minimum and picking that one central moment of decision. So I knew I wanted it to be a bride on her wedding day as she came to make that decision, but I wasn't sure how she would answer, in the same way she isn't sure what she really wants. One of my favorite things to write is internal conflict and I wanted to make that the focus of all these things going through her mind while everyone with all these external expectations is watching her, clueless to what's really going on. Which is generally how life is all around us. I did know that I wanted the ending to be a little ambiguous on who she is answering with her final choice, herself or the expectation put on her.

WOW: You did that so well! I love seeing how this was the first time you got paid for your fiction! How has your experience been submitting to contests?

Samantha: It's been a lot of fun this time around. Right out of college, I tried to pursue publishing and wasn't really ready for the rejection aspect of it and I think taking a break was good for me to focus on what I really wanted out of writing. Now, ten years later, I'm trying to pursue writing as a career and while the rejection still hurts, of course, I'm having fun with it and that's what I've always wanted out of writing. Not only am I getting more confident to share my work, but am learning how to use the criticism in the right way to improve my writing as a craft, which is a ton of fun.

WOW: Having fun is the most important part! What are you currently working on that you can tell us a bit about?

Samantha: My main project currently is a novel, Fable, that I finished last year. Fable tells the story of five siblings who are reunited for a week in Key West at their mother's vow renewal after years apart. It's a multi-pov story from each of the siblings and really focuses on them figuring out who they are not only to each other, but to themselves. It's two of my favorite things - unreliable narrators and internal conflict. I'm going through the submissions process with agents right now on that project and I'm very hopeful to be able to move forward with it down the road. I'm actively trying to speak it into existence...

WOW: I love it! The story sounds intriguing. What surrounds you when you write?

Samantha: Music. I have to have the right song and tend to play that particular song on repeat until the piece is finished. If I can't find the right song, it will feel like the whole thing is off. For this story, the song I had was "Agape" by Nicholas Britell, from the soundtrack of "If Beale Street Could Talk". It's a great soundtrack and that track helped me capture the longing the main character felt, but also the confusion and indecision of what could be. There are these beautiful muted arpeggios in the song that really evoke this hopeful idea in love of reaching for something without knowing what you'll be getting in return and I found that really inspiring. It's a kind of vulnerability that I hope comes across in the main character's thoughts. That's another thing about internal conflict that I love is the honesty that you can get from a character when it's just them to themselves. That's something that's much harder to create in dialogue like a movie or other medium.

WOW: I absolutely have to look it up! What do you hope readers take away from reading your story?

Samantha: I hope readers take away their own ending of what happened, maybe good or bad. I hope they see how social expectations are often so much different for women than men. I made a point to show her hand passing from man to man at the altar, which is a wedding tradition, but stems from this idea of passing ownership - leaving a woman without agency in the situation. A wedding, for a woman, comes with all of this social baggage and cultural implications and it's really a strange kind of custom that we build into this larger than life concept. I love taking those bigger social ideas and slicing them open into what we, as humans, are really doing when we do these kinds of things. What does a wedding mean with social media and religious expectations and family obligations? All of that is so interesting to me. I hope that women can identify with the themes and ideas that I write about. As a woman, I have an opportunity to show that point of view, and that's one thing that I find exciting about writing as well as the kind of work I hope to create in the future.

WOW: Thank you so much for your time and I hope to hear your novel is coming out soon!


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