Interview with Olivia Brochu, Runner Up in the WOW! Q3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest

Sunday, October 01, 2023


Olivia Brochu is a kitchen and bath designer and mother of three young boys. She writes in the moments in between. Her work has been featured by Musings Publications, and is forthcoming by Five Minute Lit. She lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania in a 100-year-old home she is renovating with her husband. 
----------Interview by Renee Roberson 

WOW: Congratulations! “Under Pressure” is an emotional look at the effects of stress on our bodies, intermingled with imagery pulled from the family business that provides a necessary livelihood to an entire family. How did you decide to structure the essay in this way? 

Olivia: Honestly, I came up with the idea while out for a run. I solve a lot of writing problems while running. I had written several drafts of the story that didn't feel quite right, but I kept getting this image in my head connecting the squeezing of a heart during an attack and the pressing of tile being made. Both are forms of pressure, just like stress is, and running a family business provides plenty of that. 

WOW: I always get my best ideas while exercising, too. What is your favorite line from “Under Pressure?” 

Olivia: I like the line, "With enough pressure, we too become anything our customers want." I feel like it applies in a much broader sense, especially as a woman. With enough pressure, I've become whatever is needed, whenever it's needed, and I look around and see so many women doing the same. 

WOW: What are some of the other topics you’ve written about for literary publications? 

Olivia: I have very few publications to my name, but so far I write mostly about motherhood and body image. 

WOW: How did you first hear about this contest? 

Olivia: I heard about the contest on Twitter when previous contest winners posted about it. I liked their work, and figured I'd give it a try! 

WOW: What do you think are some important do’s and don’ts when writing creative nonfiction? 

Olivia: To me, the best creative nonfiction is brutally honest. This can be hard to achieve! My first drafts often gloss over uncomfortable details or wrap things up a little too neatly. But when I read essays that cut to the core of an experience or topic, they live in my brain for weeks at a time. That’s the kind of writing I hope to achieve.

WOW: I agree, writing compelling creative nonfiction can be a tough nut to crack and can require approaching a topic several different ways before you get it right. Thank you again for being here today and for sharing these insights with us!


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