Interview with Charity Tahmaseb: Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest Runner Up

Sunday, September 10, 2023
Charity Tahmaseb has slung corn on the cob for Green Giant and jumped out of airplanes (but not at the same time). She’s worn both Girl Scout and Army green. These days, she writes stories, both short and long, and works as a technical writer for a software company. She has a fondness for coffee, ghosts, and things fantastical. She blogs occasionally at

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Charity: Thank you! I love the WOW contests, both flash fiction and creative nonfiction ones. They’re easy and fun to enter. Perhaps best of all is being able to submit previously published pieces. Those markets are rare, and I really appreciate that WOW allows that.

I’ve primarily written fiction, but I’m starting to explore creative nonfiction and memoir. Being able to enter the WOW essay contest helps me gauge whether these experiences of mine resonate with a larger audience. Flash—whether fiction or nonfiction—is a great way to test the waters, not only to see if a piece lands but how I feel about it landing.

WOW: I loved your entry, “Field Manual for Waiting” and felt like I was there with you in both situations. What inspired you to write this piece?

Charity: I’m not sure I can articulate why I wrote this particular piece, which might be why I needed to write it in the first place.

Something about these two events, which took place more than thirty years apart, became linked in my mind, and I’m hoping to explore this connection in longer works. I might even tackle a memoir, although this idea scares me a little—or, honestly, a lot.

WOW: Are you working on any writing projects right now? What’s next for you?

Charity: Well, there is that possible memoir. I’m still pondering that since what works in a short piece like “Field Manual for Waiting” might get tedious in a longer format. But this is definitely one of those slow projects that simmers on the back burner while I’m busy doing other things. It will let me know when it wants to be written.

The other project I’m working on is a supernatural suspense series about a small group of people protecting the world from a supernatural force that only they can perceive. It’s also about:

A woman with nothing to hide—except the truth—meets a man with nothing to lose—except his heart. And he’s just arrived in town to fire her.

So, yes, it might have a slow-burn romance as well. It’s one of those stories that’s also been simmering in my mind for a while.

WOW:  Sounds like a fun premise! Switching gears, you mention a fondness for ghosts and things fantastical. Can you tell us about that?

Charity: I do have a fondness for ghosts, and I think it’s linked to my fondness for history. (Because don’t all ghosts have a history?) I don’t watch much television, but I am guilty of binge-watching the UK version of Ghosts. I haven’t entirely warmed up to the US version, but I love the UK one. It’s silly, irreverent, and then, when you least expect it, surprisingly poignant.

One thing I like about fantasy and paranormal is it’s a way of grappling with issues—large and small, moral and ethical—in an engaging format. Come for the exciting story; stay for the thoughtful subtext.

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Charity. Before you go, can you share a favorite writing tip or piece of advice?

Charity: One thing I do when I get stuck is to write about writing. Honestly, I often resist this particular exercise, thinking I don’t really need to do it. I’m always wrong, by the way. Longhand works well for me, but I don’t think it’s necessary. And, sometimes, I switch to my laptop because the dam opens, and suddenly, I have all the words.

I think this could also work for writers who dictate their stories—they could talk about writing into a recording device or with a friend. Acknowledging that there’s a barrier is one of the best ways of dismantling it.



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