Interview with Melinda Hagenson: Summer 2022 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Melinda’s Bio:
Melinda Hagenson taught college English for twenty-five years before taking an early retirement to focus on her writing. She placed second overall in NYC Midnight’s 2019 Flash Fiction Challenge and has been recognized by the Wisconsin Writer’s Association for both poetry and short fiction. Melinda is currently trying to summon the courage to start querying her first novel, a family saga consisting of linked short stories, several of which have already been published. Her work has also appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, WOW! Women on Writing, and several anthologies. Melinda lives in northwestern Wisconsin with her husband and two cats. You can follow her at

If you haven't done so already, check out Melinda's award-winning story "A Caste of Thousands" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

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

Melinda: I don’t remember consciously thinking of this story’s premise. Much of the first draft just appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, as if I were merely a transcriptionist providing the fingers it needed in order to get typed. It’s always exciting to me when that happens. 

WOW: That is an exciting feeling! What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece? 

Melinda: This story’s first draft reminded me to just get out of the way and let it come, in all its imperfect ugliness. I fight a fairly relentless battle between the left brain and the right brain, the right being the creative half or Muse, and the left being the Writing Police or Inner Editor. While the Muse is trying to get something down, the Inner Editor is constantly whispering that it’s all crap and I should go find something else to do with my life. While writing this story, I managed somehow to convince my Inner Editor that although she has a vitally important job—I assured her I would spend much more time editing and revising the piece than I would on its first draft—she needed to wait her turn! 

WOW: Ah, such a relatable battle for writers. We’re glad you had the courageous to tell your Inner Editor to wait until your Muse finished. What have 25 years as a college English professor taught you about writing? 

Melinda: Literary analysis is similar to anatomy or biology or any other hard science in the sense that we (my students and I) were dissecting each piece we read or wrote, analyzing each of its elements both in isolation and in relation to its other elements. The more closely I peruse others’ work, the more I’m able to apply what I’ve learned to my own writing. 

WOW: What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Melinda: I’ve just finished a novel called Jadwiga’s Crossing (Aloysius A. Lutz and Richard Lutz), which follows a young Polish couple as they embark on their journey to America in the 1860s. I chose it because my own WIP (currently approaching what I hope are the final editing stages) is about a Polish immigrant couple and their descendants. 

WOW: Sounds like a fun way to conduct some research. If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why? 

Melinda: I’d tell myself to prioritize my writing sooner. Life seems long when most of it is ahead of you. There’s always plenty of time to get around to whatever it is you dream of doing one day. But there’s a degree of panic involved in realizing there are more years behind you than there are ahead. So . . . write more, submit more, have more courage . . . sooner. 

WOW: I love that advice! Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughtful responses with us. 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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