The headline doesn’t lie! I have interviewed a wonderful fellow writer, Oonah V. Joslin, about her participation in the anthology Pangea: Stories from Around the Globe.
But first, a bit of introduction: About five years ago, I was working as an associate in a big law firm in London and trying, surreptitiously, to write fiction. In many ways, lawyering and writing look the same to the casual observer: you sit at your desk, you type, you consult books, you look on the internet. Apart from client meetings and the occasional hearing, I was able to blend my writing life and professional life without too much trouble. The one thing I seriously lacked, however, was feedback. My writing was a secret I kept from just about everyone apart from my husband. For obvious reasons, I told no one at the office. I knew some journalists, but felt silly showing my little stories to people busy reporting on wars and financial melt downs. With a bit of googling, I found an online writing community called Writewords and it was here where I first shared my fiction. The experience of posting that first story (I joined the site’s Short Story Group) was terrifying and exhilarating. I remember hitting the refresh button about 100 times in the hour after I posted the story, adrenaline pulsing with the idea of someone actually reading and commenting on my work. From that day, Writewords became an invaluable part of my writing life and development.
Fast forward about two years. I had been posting regularly on Writewords and receiving very constructive feedback that improved my stories and fed my morale. The Short Story Group moderator, Rebecca Lloyd, asked if I would be interested in submitting one of my stories for an anthology that she and another member of the group, Indira Chandrasekhar, were putting together. I was honored and thrilled to be asked to participate. That anthology is now out, thanks to the tireless efforts of Rebecca and Indira. The book is called Pangea: An Anthology of Stories from Around the Globe, and features a stunning collection of stories, all of which appeared first on the Writewords site. You can buy Pangea here.
Today I am thrilled to interview one of the Pangea authors, Oonah V. Joslin. Oonah was born in Ballymena Northern Ireland and lives in Northumberland, England. She is Managing Editor of the online magazine, Every Day Poets and three times winner at Micro Horror. The first part of her novella “A Genie in a Jam” is serialised at Bewildering Stories. Oonah has judged poetry and flash fiction competitions and her work appears in various print anthologies, The Best of Every Day Fiction One, Two and Three, The Library’s Best Volume 1, A Man of Few Words, Toe Tags, The Shine Journal Volume One, and New Sun Rising – a Red Cross Anthology for Tsunami victims in Japan. She hopes to complete a collection of Flash and other stories for publication on Kindle by March 2013. She updates links to her work in at her blog, Parallel Oonahverse and you can check out her interview of yours truly, Tara Conklin, here.
Can you tell me a bit about your Pangea story – what was your inspiration? How long did it take you to complete? What are your writing habits (e.g. long-hand or type? absolute quiet or coffee shop?)
“Missie’s Summer” is about loss; loss of a child, loss of mental stability, loss as it incurs other loss. It is set on a farm in Ireland. I have never lived on a farm nor have I ever had a child. I wrote it pretty much all in one go as part of a writing prompt. I mostly write from prompts given by others. I write at the computer – seldom use a notebook as I can’t read my writing. I occasionally attend a group where the writing is an intensive two hour session and I need absolute silence. I regard noise as pollution.
How did WriteWords help in your development of the story? How important is a ‘writing community’ to you?
Writewords’ Flash Fiction forum gave me the prompt and quite honestly, had I not become a member of this group I would have written only poetry. I didn’t know what Flash Fiction was. I thought because I wrote only very short things, I wasn’t a good writer. I also received tremendous support and encouragement from the people there. Avis Hickman-Gibb got me to join that group.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a sequel or second half to my novella, A Genie in a Jam, and putting together a collection of flash called MicroMares & MiniBytes for Hawkmoth Press. I hope to have that completed by March next year. I write poetry every week in our forums and of course I have Every Day Poets to edit. I have been doing that for upwards of 4 years now.
What is the best advice you would offer to an aspiring writer?
Don’t wait for inspiration. Get into a secure writer’s forum and write and get feedback from other people and give feedback too. You can only succeed if you develop your skills. If you write, you’re a writer. If you don’t, you’re not. Simple.
I’d like to say a special thanks to Avis Hickman-Gibb, John Duncan Ritchie, Bill West, the folks at Every Day Fiction and Nathan Rosen of Microhorror for their faith in me and their support over the past six years.
Thank you, Oonah, for the interview!