Interview with Sophi Strahan: Winter 2023 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, August 08, 2023


Sophi’s Bio: Sophi is a rising freshman who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s proud to call this her first publication and hopes to have many more! She loves writing and any other way to express herself through words. You can usually find her reading, playing with her dog, or watching rom coms. 

If you haven't read Sophi's story, "Red," take a moment to do so.  Then come back here to learn more about this young woman and her writing.

--Interview by Sue Bradford Edwards--

WOW: What was your inspiration for this powerful story? 

Sophi: I began having some ideas for “red” a while ago, when I started noticing that the way I felt about myself in public was constantly changing. I’d be at home, pick out an outfit and do my hair and makeup, and feel amazing and confident. And yet once I got wherever I was going, all I could do was pick myself apart, looking at all the people around me and only seeing what I wasn't, instead of what I was. I started realizing that nothing about me was changing — I was still wearing the same outfit or hairstyle or makeup or whatever that had made me feel so confident before, but I felt completely different. I really wanted to dig deeper into that feeling, which is why I started writing this story. Originally, I had the story in the first person, but after reading a novel with pieces in the second person, I decided to take a crazy leap and try changing mine to the second person, and I knew immediately that that's what it needed. My goal with “red” was to create something that people could really connect with and relate to, and to paint a picture of a feeling I think almost all of us struggle with so much. 

WOW: That is so true.  You've hit on an emotion your audience is going to know. Flash fiction is such a concise form. How did you decide which details deserved space in your story and which did not? 

Sophi: This piece is so focused on our protagonist's mental experience. Although her surroundings do play a part in the story, they aren't what's driving the plot. So for this story I tried to cut circumstantial details to a minimum. I didn't want to focus too much on the main character's life, it was more important to have the reader feel connected to her. When I think of this story, I think of it first as an emotional journey, not the story of a particular person. So I really tried to preserve details that convey emotion, and left out some more personal and circumstantial details. 

WOW: Writers are also avid readers. Tell us about what you read in your spare time. Who are your favorite authors? Whose words inspire you? 

Sophi: I love reading pretty much anything, but my favorite genres are fantasy, science fiction and contemporary. One of my favorite authors is Marissa Meyers. The way she paints pictures and draws out feelings in her narratives is stunning, and her plotlines are always captivating! I’m also a sucker for a good romance (who isn't?), and her characters' relationships are priceless! On a different note, I've also really enjoyed Joanna Ho's picture books. Her metaphors, and the way she can evoke such strong feelings in so few words has been so inspiring for my short fiction writing! I think something that both flash fiction and picture books share is the way they can be so simple yet so powerful. 

WOW: Since we both love Marissa Meyers, I've requested Joanna Ho's books from my library. Your bio says that you love to write. What types of writing do you enjoy most? What is it that you enjoy about this writing? 

Sophi: Short stories are my favorite style of writing right now! The challenge of telling a full story in just a few thousand words or so is something that I'm really drawn to. Even though I read a lot in science fiction and fantasy genres, I usually prefer contemporary when doing my own writing. I love exploring relationships—not always romantic ones, although those can be fun too. But there are some really powerful stories to be told in every kind of connection people make, and I’m really drawn to those. 

WOW: What words of advice do you have for your fellow writers who are not feeling “Red” enough to send their words out into the world? 

Sophi: I know it feels like you have everything to lose by putting your work out there—I think all writers, all artists even, have been there. But really there is so much to gain! Think of it as an opportunity to grow. You can get support and feedback from other writers, and yes that can be hard at first, but once you learn how to accept constructive criticism (and to tell which parts of it will positively impact your work), it will grow you so incredibly much as a writer! Be willing to put yourself out there—it will pay off.

WOW:  And we are so glad that you were willing to put yourself and your writing out into the world.  Good luck with your writing projects and we hope to see more of your work in the future!


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