Interview with Michelle Hsu: Summer 2022 Flash Fiction Contest Third Place Winner

Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Michelle’s Bio:
Before beginning her career as a TV writer, Michelle spent some time caving and conducting water research in the wilderness of Kentucky. After moving to Los Angeles from her sleepy Midwest hometown, Michelle worked at a plethora of film studios as an assistant, before breaking in as a writer on a soon-to-be-announced Amazon TV show. As a second generation queer Asian American, Michelle is passionate about diversity in media. With a penchant for writing sci-fi stories, Michelle seeks to infuse her genre content with metaphors about the queer, female, and POC experience. In her spare time, she enjoys long walks around her neighborhood, traveling to rural and rugged places, and watching rom-coms. 

Connect with Michelle via her website ( or via Twitter (@_michellehsu). 

If you haven't done so already, check out Michelle's award-winning story "Sidesaddle Annie's Siren Call" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Summer 2022 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? 

Michelle: The story was borne out of my own personal experience at a bar called Oil Can Harry's. It was a queer saloon established in 1968 that sadly shut down over the pandemic. They had their own siren alarm, and the history of the place is something that's stuck with me for a long time. It was exciting to be able to borrow that piece of history, and fictionalize it in a way that I hope does justice to the people who celebrated proudly in that place. 

WOW: What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece? 

Michelle: I work best on a deadline! I wrote this piece relatively quickly, then put it away and didn't re-read it again until a few days before the deadline. I find that given too much time, I'll pick away at my writing, usually to its detriment. When I'm passionate about a story, I like to write as much of it as I can in one sitting, then give myself time away from it, before coming back with fresh eyes. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing insight into your writing process! What affect has your career as a TV writer had on your personal creative writing or vice versa? 

Michelle: I think both styles of writing complement each other in the best way possible. Screenwriting forces you to flex a very specific muscle—stories can only be told visually and aurally. Audiences will not know what your characters are thinking or feeling, so as a writer you're forced to show, not tell. The skill translates well over to prose, because you're able to ground your readers in your settings. On the flip side, prose (especially flash fiction) requires you to tell a story in a really short amount of space. This skill translates well over to TV because you want to keep audiences as engaged as possible for as long as possible—so each scene, no matter how short it is, needs to have a punchy arc. 

WOW: It’s amazing to me to see how well such seemingly different genres can complement each other so well. Great connection. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Michelle: I'm reading a lot of different things at the moment—producers, execs, and my team of agents will periodically send me books, articles, and comics to read with an eye towards adaptation. My reading list is endless and chaotic, but I wouldn't have it any other way! On my own time, I've been reading Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente; it's a book that's been recommended to me for years that I am finally getting around to reading. Her prose is masterful! 

WOW: Thank you for that recommendation! If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why? 

Michelle: Write what you want to write, and not what you think people will like. It's something that I try to keep in mind even now as I think about what I want to work on next. I feel like writers often feel the pressure to chase trends. What's popular right now? What's going to resonate with audiences the most? Frankly, I don't think those are helpful or productive questions to ask. It's impossible to predict or control how audiences will react to something you've all you can do is write from the heart. Write a story that is as close to your own truths as possible, and someone somewhere out there will probably resonate with it, too. 

WOW: That is excellent advice. Thank you! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Michelle: Huge thank you to the judges, and congrats to all the other writers! I've been a longtime fan of WOW!, and am excited to continue reading everyone's brilliant works! 

WOW: Thank you for sharing your story and for your thoughtful interview responses! Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes and offers developmental editing and ghostwriting services to partially fund the press. Connect on Twitter @greenmachine459.


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