Interview with Lisa Mahoney, Runner Up in the WOW! Spring 2022 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, October 11, 2022


Lisa loves everything writing: learning about it, doing it, and teaching it. Squeezed in around imparting her still-growing knowledge in local composition and literature college classrooms, she reads, takes workshops and classes to better her writing, and, oh yeah, writes. She loves the short form, especially flash fiction, and her stories have received honorable mentions in the Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Contest and have been published in Parnassus Literary Arts Magazine, Voices: A Merrimack Valley Literary Journal and on She won the 2017 Key West Writers Guild Award, a 2018 Anne McKee Artists Fund Grant and a 2018 Writers in Paradise scholarship, all in support of her first novel (now complete and in search of a home). She recently had the honor of winning Sterling Clack Clack’s Annual Hemingway Short Story contest. Her trade-in of the New England snow for eternal Florida sun have proved fruitful and she can be found walking on the beach or staring at the palm trees getting inspired to write more stories. Virtually, you can find her on Instagram @lisamahoneywriter and get updates on her writing at 

Read Lisa's story here and then return for an interview with the author. ----------Interview by Renee Roberson 

WOW: So many of us have friendships that sort of end out of the blue, leaving us to wonder why. You took the opposite approach in describing the “exit” meeting between the two friends in the story. What do you hope the reader takes away from “Division of Assets?” 

Lisa: It’s such a weird thing, right? Drifting away from a friend. I’ve moved a few times and sometimes wonder about the ones I left behind, who I enjoyed hanging with and chatting, but they didn’t make the cut for me to continue the effort when I moved. Nothing bad happened but the geographical move made the connection harder. The story started from that place—what if a seemingly good friendship was blatantly severed? But as I was writing it became more about the power of memory. A lot of my early years are gone from my memory—childhood up through college. It hits me now and again—the sadness of that. When I started my own family I started scrapbooking to try to preserve my own kids’ younger years. Pictures are great and we often see a photo and reminisce about where and when but what’s the ’story’ behind it? That’s the bigger part of the memory for me. The pictures set the scene but the journaling explores the memory. In our current uber-consumerism environment, we get caught up in the ’things’ in life when in my mind it should be about the experiences we share with other people. That’s what I hope readers see—memories need to be preserved. 

WOW: What do you love most about teaching the craft of writing? 

Lisa: One of the greatest things about teaching writing is the illusion of the suspension of time. When I am in that space with other creatives, all enthusiastic about this wild and weird and sometimes all-consuming passion, time seems to stop. More times than not, I look up and I’ve gone over time but the best is that the students don’t seem to mind because they were lost in the process too. That is so great. Additionally, what’s really exciting is that AHA moment in a student, that click when something just fits into place. It’s visceral—you see it, hear it, feel it. Finally, the real bonus in a purely selfish way is that I get to keep learning. The old adage is absolutely true—if you want to learn something, teach it. I’m a perpetual ’student’ of writing. Even when I’m in the teacher role, being their guide, I open myself up to what the students can teach me. It’s a reciprocal process for me. 

WOW: I love that! We should never stop learning, no matter how much writing we've done. Your impressive list of credits includes writing scholarships and grants. Do you have any tips for writers on the best place to search for similar opportunities? 

Lisa: My best luck with scholarships and grants has been at the local level. Living in Key West, a huge advocate for the arts, gave me the most opportunities. I was fortunate to live in an arts-centric community. My advice is to start close to home then work outward—local opportunities tend to be focused and only available to residents whereas the national ones are flooded with throngs of applicants, making it much more competitive. Second, don’t talk yourself out of it giving any credence to that horribly critical inner voice that tells us we won’t win. I saw one grant but initially ’thought’ I didn’t qualify based on the scope of my artistic project. Two years later, I met several past winners and learned my work did fit, applied and won. So it’s important to ask questions, talk to past winners, inquire with the committee then adhere to the motto—you can’t ever win if you don’t even apply. Last, persist! Sometimes the same scholarship/grant has different judges each year so keep applying. One of my wins took four tries for my manuscript to align with the judges’ sensibilities. Keep at it. 

WOW: Thanks for those words of encouragement! We’d love to hear about your novel. Could you share some details with us? 

Lisa: My novel, not surprisingly, is themed around memory. I’m curious and fascinated by why some memories stay and others get lost, how certain things can trigger a memory and how memory is retrieved. We mistakenly think a memory is like a movie reel in our brains but it’s actually split apart and stored in different places so putting it together is more like a puzzle. This manuscript is my attempt to explore how a traumatic event can cause a memory to get blocked and what happens when it stays blocked then what comes of it when it is retrieved. Protagonist Jaycee witnessed her brother’s death when he was ten and she twelve. She can’t recall the day at all so there is guilt and blame and an overall numbing until in college she gets triggers that cause major interruptions in her life. She makes the decision that it's time to find the whole memory and finally know what happened that day. She can only move forward when she knows what happened—even if it means she was responsible. 

WOW: I'm intrigued--it sounds like a great read with lots of twists and turns. What are some of your favorite things about living in Florida? Has it provided you with even more writing inspiration? 

Lisa: Three of my favorite things in life are sunshine, the beach, and heat. Florida has them all. Living here has provided me with more inspiration but not truly in the place sense. Mostly my stories arrive from asking the question "How would someone handle ’this’ situation?” The inspiration I have now comes more from just an overall contentedness in loving where I live. That allows me to focus on the writing more. Gray skies and bitter cold make me miserable. I can’t write when I’m miserable. Luckily, the sun and warmth arrive almost every day, so I keep writing.

WOW: Lisa, we appreciate you taking this time with us today. You are an inspiration, and we wish you continued success in your writing.


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