Interview with Alison Morretta: Summer 2023 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Alison Morretta graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in English and Creative Writing. She is a freelance writer and editor who has authored sixteen nonfiction books for middle and high school students. She has been published in The First Line and has an upcoming short story to be featured in Black Sheep. Alison is the Senior Editor at and is currently working on her first novel—that is, when her rambunctious Corgi, Sophie, is not interrupting the creative process to demand a game of tennis ball.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in our Summer 2023 Flash Fiction competition. Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “The Bereavement of Wild Birds?”

Alison: I had been thinking about entering the contest for a while, but none of the ideas I had were really working for me. I started and abandoned a few things, and the deadline was approaching. I was on my way to work to make yet another attempt at my submission when I saw the scene I opened the story with—the turkey getting hit and the young turkey looking on. It absolutely devastated me and I ended up pulling over and just sobbing for a while. It got me thinking about mothers and children—daughters in particular—and how those relationships can so often be fraught. I consider myself very lucky to have a great relationship with my mother (Hi Mom!), but if I didn’t, and she was taken from me suddenly, I would be just as lost and confused as that poor little turkey by the side of the road.

WOW: Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?

Alison: I tend to write much longer pieces, so I started writing flash as practice to work on streamlining narratives, economy of language, etc. I really enjoyed the challenge of being forced to create and complete an entire story arc with very few words at my disposal. It has really helped me when it comes to editing my longer stories and novel chapters, too.

WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Alison: I am so lucky to have a wonderful place to go to write—the Fairfield County Story Lab in Fairfield, CT. The Story Lab is a shared workspace specifically for writers, and there is such a wonderful sense of community and creative energy there. For a long time, especially during the pandemic, I was unable to get anything done at home, and when I found the Story Lab, it changed everything for me.

My writing routine is to wake up at around 6am (because my darling Corgi, Sophie, does not let me sleep), get an overpriced latte at Starbucks, and then head to the Story Lab. I split my time between day-job editorial work and either my novel or one of the short stories I’ve got in the works. I give myself breaks (perhaps more than I should) and chat with the other Story Lab members about what we’re working on, how it’s going, or just general venting about Life Things. I usually gas out by early afternoon and then go home and watch mindless reality television.

WOW: That sounds like a great routine! You’re also currently working on your first novel. Can you tell us anything about it, and what your novel writing journey has been like so far?

Alison: I’d been working on a novel off and on since 2016. I completed about half of it, then I got lost in the no-man’s land of the middle (I am definitely a pantser by nature, not a plotter). Over this past summer, I decided to send that first novel on vacation for a little while because I had another idea that I was much more excited about. And, shockingly, I actually plotted that book!

The novel I’m currently working on is in the psychological thriller/domestic suspense genre, which is my absolute favorite type of book to read. It’s a revenge story about two sisters. It has a more-than-slightly unhinged protagonist, lots of dysfunctional family dynamics at play, and some toxic romance thrown in for good measure. I’m having an absolute blast writing it!

WOW: Best of luck with your novel writing! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Alison. Before you go, do you have a favorite writing tip or piece of advice you can share?

Alison: While I realize this may not work for everyone, I find it helpful to have several things cooking at once. I’ve got the novel going and then a handful of short stories. If I’m only working on one thing at a time, I get writer’s block a lot more easily. When I’ve got a few things in the rotation, if I get stuck on one of them, I can bounce over to something else. Then when I go back to the one I was stuck on, it’s like I’m reading it with fresh eyes and I can figure out how to move forward with it.

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