Interview with Marie Davis: Fall 2023 Flash Fiction Contest 3rd Place Winner

Tuesday, March 19, 2024
Marie’s Bio:
Marie Davis is an epidemiologist who works in global HIV prevention and began writing fiction for fun a few years ago. She's currently working on her first novel, exploring themes of family, belonging, and girlhood. Overpriced cappuccinos, other people’s dogs, and pithy books about angsty women who don’t really do anything fuel her creativity. Seeking ways to streamline her writing process, Marie is grateful for any tips to improve her current, chaotic approach. Although she resides in DC, her heart yearns to one day live by the ocean where she can best be angsty and not really do anything herself. 

If you haven't done so already, check out Marie's award-winning story "Not Pictured" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the Fall 2023 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? 

Marie: I really enjoy when people do something unusual for tender, yet difficult to explain, reasons. A lot of life’s weirdness can be chalked up to misunderstood kindness. This little story started with nothing else than the idea of how odd it would seem to pocket another family’s photograph, but I wanted the reason to be sweet instead of strange. 

WOW: What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece? 

Marie: Historically, I’ve been a very critical and nervous decision-maker at pivotal life junctures. Despite feeling confident about most of my Big Decisions at Big Times, I have mourned the other lives I could have lived deeply and indulgently. This piece reminded me of how I imagined the next phase of my life could look when I was much younger and how limited my ideas about the future really were. It’s a humbling reminder of how uninspired my past imaginations were, and suggests my current imaginations lack the depth and potential surprises that are ahead. 

WOW: That’s an important realization. Thank you for sharing it with us. What prompted you to start writing fiction a few years ago? 

Marie: I come from a family of passionate readers and writers of pithy cards, professional journalism, and published novels. This environment fostered a spirit of fun wordplay and other creative literary pursuits. I was inspired by my mother’s journey in writing and publishing her first middle school novel last year, and it has been a new and exciting way for us to connect in our individual pursuits. 

WOW: How wonderful to be able to connect with your family in this fun and creative way! I hear you’re writing a novel. How is your novel-writing process going? 

Marie: It’s going! I am spending more time in my characters’ minds, which is not great for my professional productivity but is fun for the process. It’s difficult to track progress for something as intimate and private as the writing process, and I’m hoping to continue to find ways to carve out productive time that doesn’t feel too forced. 

WOW: Yes, finding creative time amid other life pursuits is such a challenge. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Marie: I’m currently reading Covenant of Water and re-reading The Bell Jar (don’t worry, I’m fine). I loved Abraham Verghese’s other books for their sweeping epic-like storytelling that was subtle and mysterious despite his dramatic undertaking, and Covenant of Water is not disappointing. The Bell Jar is generally remembered for its shock value, but the slow burn and humor that Plath exhibits in the first half is timeless, and I am using it as inspiration for one of my current characters. 

WOW: If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why? 

Marie: To read smarter and start throwing up words. Even if you have nothing to say you have to learn how to say it. 

WOW: Thanks for sharing that advice! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Marie: Thank you for this space – writing short stories for these contests has really helped me think about and improve my writing. 

WOW: You’re welcome! Thank you for sharing your story and your inspiring responses with us. Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes and offers developmental editing and ghostwriting services to partially fund the press. Connect on Twitter @greenmachine459.


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