Interview with Lynn Powers, Runner Up in the Spring 2023 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Lynn’s Bio: 

Lynn works in New York City as an Assistant Production Manager and Location Manager for Film & Television, most recently on The Good Fight, Evil, and The Good Wife

Past vocations include a stint as a Reporter, where she learned the art of strong verbs and short sentences. As a Location Scout, she found a passion for telling a visual story within a single frame. No matter what medium, storytelling is the joy. 

Her Flash Fiction has been published in New Flash Fiction Review, and Flash Fiction Magazine; she won Honorable Mention in WOW! Women on Writing 2023 Q3 Creative Nonfiction Contest and she won Runner-Up in the WOW! Women on Writing Flash Fiction Winter Contest, 2019. Brooklyn, NY is home, which she shares with her husband, Nat, and Cockapoo, Rusty. 

She dreams of one day publishing a collection of her Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction. 

If you haven't read her story, "Before and After 8:46," take a moment and then come back to learn about her inspiration and how she writes such powerful stories.

-----interviewed by Sue Bradford Edwards-----

WOW:  What was the inspiration behind "Before and After 8:46"? 

Lynn: I was listening to a TED Radio Hour podcast called "Keeping Secrets." The talk was by a man in Germantown, Maryland, who handed out blank self-addressed postcards and invited people to write anonymous notes about their deepest, darkest secrets. It was an experiment on healing through confession. He read several posts on air, and one of them was: "Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes that I am dead." And that was it; he moved on to the next secret. 

But I was hooked. I had to know what circumstances would lead a person to live like they were dead, even if it meant creating a fictional version. So, I wrote the quote in my notepad as a "someday" story to write. That was 2019. When this WOW writing contest came up, I dug through a pile of old ideas, and this one jumped out at me. I had to finish the story I had put off for years. 

WOW:  And we are so glad that you did! What impacted your decision to use 9/11 as the setting? 

Lynn:  As much as I wanted to write this story, it was buried in my "someday" pile for so long because I wasn't sure I wanted to relive that day. 

In 2001, I lived in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and was home when the planes hit the twin towers. I watched the day unfold from the roof of a three-story building. A southern wind blew smoke and debris from Manhattan and blanketed our neighborhood with dust. I’ll never forget the image of a black cloud carrying white paper across the river. Once the smoke cleared, I found all kinds of burnt correspondence on our deck, mundane items like canceled checks and bank statements. It was surreal under the circumstances. 

I wanted to get accurate details of what it was like in the towers when they were attacked, so I did a deep dive into eyewitness accounts. After twenty-two years of suppressing memories, it was difficult, but I was ready to face the grief. Like the TED radio show participants who revealed their secrets to a stranger, this writing experience was surprisingly cathartic. 

WOW:  Writing short is clearly a passion for you. What advice do you have for writers who have never tried writing Flash? 

Lynn: There is nothing like Flash to get the creative juices flowing and gain confidence. I’m inspired by prompts and deadlines like this contest to make me sit down and write. Creative writing is intimidating, but through Flash, I've learned to put down whatever words spill out of the subconscious, free of judgment, and get the process going. Then, if I’m lucky, uncover a story worth telling. So I write, revise, tweak, and tweak again and eventually, there might be something to share. If not, then I’ve at least revealed something hidden about myself. I’m seeing a theme here with this interview  catharsis through writing. That's what Flash is for me, and I think for many writers. 

WOW: You have worked as both a reporter and a location scout. How have those vocations impacted your writing? 

Lynn: The most valuable skill I learned as a reporter was the discipline to sit down and write, no matter what. There is a very real deadline to make and no time to wait for inspiration or to be in the mood. You gather all the information, and at some point, you have to give it structure and start typing. It was also good practice to write in an active, concise language that hooks a reader's interest and keeps them engaged. 

As a Location Manager and Scout, my job is to understand a character's back story well enough to imagine the physical world they live in. For example, if a script says INT. HOUSE – what kind of house – is the question. Would this person live in a modern mid-century home? Or is their style more traditional? The Location Manager collaborates with the Production Designer and Director to answer these questions. The scout has to find the location, then reveal it through select photographs that tell the story of what kind of person occupies it. All that deep thinking about story and character is exciting to me, and transcends all types of storytelling, whether visual or written. 

WOW: What are you working on now? 

Lynn: The Film and Television industry I work in is currently shut down, as union writers and actors (WGA and SAG-AFTRA) are on strike. While I'm not in the same guild (I'm in the Directors Guild), the strike impacts us all, and there is no filming. This is a difficult time, but it’s a necessary fight for a more balanced distribution of income. I'm using this time to write new pieces and polish old ones. I’m entering contests, taking online classes, and exchanging stories with other writers on websites like Scribophile. I have a collection of Flash I'm happy with and want to share. Whether that’s through a blog or self-published book, I've yet to figure out, but that’s my goal. 

WOW: There is such a need for equity today, but I'm sure I speak for our readers when I say that you've put your time to marvelous use in creating such powerful stories.  Good luck in deciding how you want to share them! 


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