Interview with Susan Moffson, 2nd Place Winner in the WOW! Fall 2022 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, March 28, 2023


Susan Moffson has been working in the field of international development for nearly 25 years, some of that time spent living and working in Africa. For the past 12 years, she has worked for the non-governmental organization, Jhpiego, the leading partner in a consortium implementing the global health project, Momentum Country and Global Leadership. She has written several work-related blogs about the positive impact Jhpiego-led programs have had on many women and children and has realized she is a journalist at heart. Susan loves to write fiction, pulling from her time abroad, to capture the incredibly rich and varied cultures she has been fortunate to experience. 

Read Susan's winning story here and then return for an interview with the author. 

----------Interview by Renee Roberson 

WOW: Congratulations, Susan, and welcome! How did you work in the field of international development inspire your story, The Healing Power of Crystals?” 

Susan: We lived in Madagascar and this story was inspired by true events there where the expatriate women would attend jewelry parties. It wasn't until after attending some of these jewelry parties that I realized from my husband's colleague that children mine some of the stones, and that the mines aren't safe. I was completely shocked and ashamed and felt for a long time that this was a story that had to be told. Of course, many people aren't aware about the unsafe mines and buy jewelry not knowing where the stones come from. Sadly, this applies to many countries and many products, not just stones. A lot has been in the news lately about the dangerous mining conditions in Democratic Republic of Congo for minerals like cobalt, used in cell phones and electric cars. 

WOW: Thank you for bringing awareness to this important topic! What is your favorite line from this story and why? 

Susan: I think the last line, "Fanja's still working in the pit, supporting herself and Mama after the mines destroyed Papa’s lungs with their fine red dust." I wanted to show how people in developing countries, as smart or savvy as they may be - like the main character, Fanja - often have so many barriers to overcoming poverty and improving their lives. I also wanted to write the typical flash surprise ending, in this case showing that Fanja's papa was sicker than was known all along and that as a result, Fanja couldn't get away from mining like she had hoped.

WOW: Could you share some of your favorite memories of your visits to the continent of Africa. 

Susan: Absolutely loved our time in Africa! We hope to go back someday and live there after our youngest is out of high school. I think our time in Uganda in many ways was the most special because we were there the longest and got the most integrated into the culture, in terms of friendships and comfort with the community and surroundings. You certainly can't beat the weather there, since it lies on the equator and the temperature generally ranges from about 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. We enjoyed bird watching from our patio and often saw Monkeys swing from trees in the trees just outside our gate! 

WOW: When did you first discover your love of storytelling? 

Susan: Really not until a training for work on how to write success stories 12 years ago in Madagascar. Our project donor, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) put it on for all their grantees and I realized how much I loved writing the stories about how the lives of beneficiaries' - usually pregnant women and newborns- were improved from the work we were doing. Eventually I branched out into flash fiction. 

WOW: It's never too late to try new things, right? What do you think the is the most important aspect to consider when working on a shorter piece of fiction such as this one? 

Susan: Finding ways to pack a lot of detail into sentences without being wordy- I've gotten so much more concise in my flash and also in my writing for work. 

WOW: Susan, thank you again for these great responses and for sharing your memories from your time in Africa. We hope to read more of your work soon!


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