Interview With Tara May Flanagan, Fall 2022 Flash Fiction Runner-Up

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


I'm excited to interview Tara May Flanagan, one of our runners-up in our Fall 2022 Flash Fiction contest. Before you read our interview, make sure you read her story "Morning Coffee" and then come on back.

First, here's a bit about Tara:

Tara is a writer and editor living in Lake Tahoe, California. Tara’s first love is books, and she spent six years working in the independent bookselling industry. Samples of her work, including short stories, blog posts, and novel excerpts, are featured in Sick Lit Magazine and at her website,

---- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First of all congratulations on winning runner up! You managed to capture perfectly the struggle of someone watching a family member struggle with homelessness and all the issues behind what caused it. What inspired this idea?

Tara: This story was prompted by a writing assignment and inspired by my mother. While she’s never been homeless, she has faced a lot of adversity, and I’ve often felt helpless in my ability to improve her situation. With this story, I wanted to take that familiar feeling and project it into an even more impossible situation than I’ve ever experienced in order to explore those emotions.

WOW: I can understand that battle completely. You did so well to also capture the mother-daughter relationship. What fueled that part of your story?

Tara: I definitely drew from my own relationship with my mother. We were so close when I was young, but we’ve lived apart ever since I was 17, and for years I didn’t see her very often. Despite the distance, we have a better relationship than some mothers and daughters who spend a lot more time together. I’ve always harbored a fierce love for her, alongside feelings of frustration and helplessness. I wanted to capture those conflicting feelings in this story because they’re such an integral part to our relationship.  

WOW: You did so perfectly! What do you hope the reader takes away after reading your story?

Tara: That things are often imperfect, and they are never simple, but sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to simply be there for them. Even if that someone is your mother. 

WOW: Amazing wisdom that I hope people take to heart. I saw you did ghostwriting, including ghostwriting a memoir. How does that kind of writing help your creative work?

Tara: So much! The memoir I worked on was one of the most illuminating projects I’ve ever done. I had never ghostwritten a creative project like that before, and I was amazed at how I was able to transport myself into the story as though it were my own. The whole process—from interviewing the author, to weaving in and expanding on pieces the author had previously written, to composing my own writing from the author’s POV—was so creative and enjoyable. I would welcome more ghostwriting projects, and I recommend them to any writer.

WOW: I can only imagine! How did working in the independent bookselling industry help you in your own writing?

Tara: I’ve always been a reader first, above all things, and I entered the independent bookselling industry primarily to be close to my favorite things—books! But I also wanted to be surrounded by books because I knew they fed my writing brain, that part of me that is always thinking, always catching snatches of story ideas and potential titles, always formulating scenes. And it worked! Ideas and inspiration are everywhere in an indie bookstore. I also got to learn a lot about the literary world itself, what it takes to get published, and where the books go on the shelves. It was wildly informative, and I hope to always work in books in some capacity.

WOW: What a learning experience! What are you working on now that you can tell us about?

Tara:A novel, of course! Aren’t we all? It’s a story inspired by my childhood growing up wild and poor in the California desert—a little bit The Glass Castle and a little bit The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s a lot of work, and I still don’t believe I really know what I’m doing, but it’s so much fun!

WOW: I can't wait to read it! What advice do you have for writers who are uncertain about sharing their work with the world?

Tara: The more you do it, the easier it gets! Seriously, the more you submit your work, the more you read your writing out loud to others, the more you WANT to do those things. You’ll gain more confidence in your writing (even though it’ll always be scary), and you’ll get better at it. Besides all that, you’ll never succeed if you don’t at least try. Your writing should be for you above all, but it’s okay—good even—to share it sometimes. 

WOW: Amazing advice! Congratulations again and good luck on your novel! 


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