Annie On Writing

October 19, 2015

Miranda Kate – Author in the Spotlight for Twisted Tales 2015

Filed under: Interview with Author — Annie Evett @ 4:24 am
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Welcome Miranda Kate as this weeks Author in the Spotlight. She is our last author to be interviewed who is featured in the upcoming Twisted Tales 2015 Anthology. 

Miranda adores writing Flash Fiction. Primarily a novel writer, flash brings out her darker side, allowing the disturbing elements to bubble and surface. Whether a side effect from years of reading horror, or just how she sees the world, she’s not quite sure, but she thoroughly enjoys it.

Miranda Kate

The title of your flash fiction.

 The Cabin

What was your initial motivation or prompt to write this story?

 This story initially arose from a song prompt for a Flash Fiction challenge. When I saw the Twisted Tale competition, I was reminded of it, revising and adapting it for submission. The song was Home in the Woods, by Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons.

Is the character in your story a reoccurring character in your writing?

 Not specifically, although I do tend to write characters that do very dark things, especially in my Flash Fiction. I like them to do the unexpected, or what initially seems out of character.

What sort of message of feeling are you hoping you leave your audience with?

 With all my stories I like to leave the readers with a chill, making the story, and/or characters, difficult to forget. I like to leave them with something to think about, force them to look at people and life from a different perspective. And sometimes I try and work it so the audience feels sympathy for the main character, despite what they may have done.

What sorts of challenges or insights have you had writing this?

 I tried to make it unpredictable, so the reader would not see the twist at the end before it arrived; taking out any sentences that gave clues or suggestions about what was coming. I kept refining it, and reducing it. The written tense was also a challenge, because he was thinking back to what had taken place, and to make it immediate so the audience could see what happened as well as keep it in the past was hard.

What sort of stories do you normally write? Is this story a break from your norm?

 This story is very much what I write for Flash Fiction. I usually go for dark or suspense filled pieces. I am a lover of horror, although less blood and gore and more psychologically disturbing. I consider a story good if I am still thinking about it days later, whether wondering at a characters motivations or disturbed by what they did. I grew up reading Stephen King, Clive Barker, and James Herbert. I loved the stories they weaved, and the worlds they led me into, and the surprises they revealed that kept me turning the page. 

 Are you focused on one particular genre or story length style? 

 I either write really short fiction (less than a 1000 words), or really long fiction – novels (exceeding 100K words). I find it really difficult to write in between, whether short stories of 1600 words or novellas/anthology length pieces of 4-25K.

 In my short fiction I go for dark, disturbing or sad story lines, but in my novels I tend to go more with suspense filled real life general fiction, or science fiction/fantasy. But I don’t tend to restrict my writing to any one genre; in fact I rarely consider it when I am writing, unless I am writing something specific to submit.

What projects or new story lines do you have coming up in the near future?

 I am currently working through a second round of edits on my novel, so I can send it out to beta readers. And for National November Writing Month, I will be working on another novel that I began some time ago. Both are general fiction, and are exploring characters that have something revealed about them that they are not completely comfortable with the world knowing. 

Do you enter many writing competitions?

I regularly take part in Flash Fiction competitions and challenges online. There are several weekly ones that I take part in, as much for motivation and honing writing skill as for the winning and feedback from readers. I enjoy taking part and it is a great way to connect with other writers, and get feedback on your writing.

Are you a member of a writing group – either online or a physical one?

 Due to being an expat living in foreign speaking country, a physical writing group is hard for me to find, as I don’t read or write fiction in the native language of the country I am living in. I also don’t live in or near big cities that would offer expat writing groups. But I am part of one online, although it is not a traditional group in that we don’t submit a piece for others to read on a regular basis. It is simply a collection of writers and artists, who support each other in their creative endeavours.

Do you think these groups help or hinder a writer’s journey?

 I think writing groups are invaluable. They give support to writers through positive encouragement and feedback. I found mine through connecting with other writers on Twitter, through hashtags for National November Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) and Writers in general (#Writer #amwriting #amediting). There is a wealth of people and information out there, and it is a great way to find help and support for all and any writing genre or type of writing. Writing is a solitary business, and it has helped me feel less alone and more connected to others.

What encouragement or advice do you have for emerging writers?

 Write what you like to write, what comes to you, what feels good to you. When you can tell the writer loves what they have written, that is what gives writing life – no matter the genre or content. Do hone your skill. Do read about how to write. Filter it all and use what works for you. There is no right or wrong, there is only writing. And the more often you write, the easier it gets.

What advice or tips do you have for writers who feel they are stuck or have “writers block”?

 I have never had writers block, as my biggest problem is having too many idea, and not being able to find the time to get them all out – a bit like a traffic jam in my head! But I do know others that have suffered. My advice would be take a break, and decide to stop for a while, take the pressure off, and do something else that you enjoy. It will come back. Journaling can also be helpful, to write about your feelings about being stuck or having writers block. Sometimes it is fear – either of success or of failure – in that case, share your fears with other writers. Connecting really helps.

How can others follow your journey? 

 I’m all over the place!

Twitter: @purplequeennl

Google+: Miranda Kate

My Blog: Finding Clarity –  http://purplequeennl.blogspot.nl/

Twisted Tales is an annual flash fiction competition celebrating (Inter)National Flash Fiction Day, published by Raging Aardvark Publications. Judged by a panel of experienced short story writers and editors, submissions over the last four years have been extremely high quality; making the job of the judge a difficult one. Authors are drawn from around the globe and stories ranging from lighthearted tales of childhood memories, to gruesome stories to make the reader shiver.

October 12, 2015

Thaisa Frank – Author in the Spotlight for Twisted Tales 2015

thaisa Frank b w

Thaisa Franks novels and short story collections include  Enchantment,  Heidegger’s GlassesSleeping in Velvet and A Brief History of Camouflage. She’s a native New Yorker in the colonies of California. She is being interviewed here as part of the upcoming launch for 2015 Twisted Tales Anthology.


The Title of your Flash.

 The New Thieves 

What was your initial motivation or prompt to write this story?

 I was thinking about how hard it is to insert passages in fiction. That is–if what you insert is off, the original text forms antibodies around it like a bad organ transplant. After I thought about this for a while,  I began to wish there were special thieves who could add passages so seamlessly no one noticed.  

Is the character in your story a reoccurring character in your writing?

 In my stores there’s often a “she” or a he—a kind of everywoman or everyman who’s adrift in a world that existed before they arrived  and in many ways doesn’t make sense.  Their mission is to make sense of that world—at least temporarily.

What sort of message of feeling are you hoping you leave your audience with?

 I feel more like a carpenter building a table than someone with a message.  To put it another way–I can tell if a leg on the table is uneven or the top isn’t square. But I’m working with form—and often that means hearing  the music of words and passages and knowing if they sound right. Months later I may see what raw clay in my life–or in what I know of life– I was using.  But that’s not exactly a message.   

In some general sense, though, I’ve always felt we make the world up and the way to illuminate that is to make up more. One of my favorite quotes is by Wallace Stevens The imagination is the weather of the mind. There’s something intimate and exciting about connecting with readers in new weather. So, for example, when I finished that story, I felt excited about the possibility of connecting with a reader in uncharted territory.

What sort of stories do you normally write? (Is this story a break from your norm?)

 This story is like a lot of my fiction– surreal or fabulist. I started out in short forms and continue to work in long and short forms.

Sometime I write stories close to the lap of my life—and have written two semi-autobiographical novellas.

Why is that?

 When I write about something close to my life it has to penetrate deeply and the lag between the event and the writing takes a long time. As for the majority of my work–I’ve already talked about how the life of the imagination and the not-yet-imagined are vehicles for connection.  (I think this is one reason we like to share stories and enjoy listening to children.)

 As for form: I’d written as a kid, but majored in philosophy of science and my voice was totally rusty when I began to write again–like someone learning to sing. So flash was about all my voice could sustain. When I could manage longer passages, I wrote longer stories and finally I wrote a novel. 

I still work in all these forms because they take my voice in different directions and allow for different possibilities.

What projects or new story lines do you have coming up in the near future?

 I’m doing another short story collection, polishing flash I didn’t finish when writing the novel, and writing another novel. I can’t say much about my work because it evaporates if I start to talk about it.  Someone once said you can either write a story or tell it but you can’t do both.  

Do you enter many competitions for flash fiction?

 This is the first I ever entered.  My agent  told me about it.  

Are you a member of a writing group – either online or a physical one?

 I’ve never been in a writing group because I can’t talk about work-in-progress.  Once I had to turn down an MFA fellowship because I was pretty sure I couldn’t be in a workshop and keep my voice which–in turn– mysteriously links to vision.  I teach writing and have even co-authored a book about voice, but I try to deconstruct the workshop form—that is, I try to encourage writers to find their deepest material without telling them what to do with it.  (When I do talk about writing, I tend to talk about meta-stuff, like unity and transition and permission to leave things out.)

Do you think these groups help or hinder a writers journey? I think in many cases they hinder the journey. Why? First, there’s the conundrum of talking about the story too much and how that takes off the lid of the pressure-cooker. Second, writers learn by reading and observing and most of our instructions to ourselves when we write—particularly when finding the right vessel or shape for a story–are inchoate. Other voices can improve a work once the writer has created a draft with a shape;  but premature feedback fractures voice and can mangle that shape. For example: If someone in a writing group thinks a story is a lion, they’ll suggest adding legs. But the story might be a medieval beast that needs a few extra horns. Writers get  confused when they start adding legs to a medieval beast. 

What encouragement or advice do you have for emerging writers of flash fiction?

First, I would tell any writer not to take any advice.  But as long as you asked…. I would tell any writer that it takes time to find that amazing moment in flash when the sentences of the story and the narrative arc (larger than the sum of the sentences) converge.  When you start writing flash, it’s often best to treat each piece like a found dream. Use less time than you think you need and instead of trying to revise, go on to the next piece. Once that amazing convergence happens, you can start to think about polishing a piece. Until then, write a lot. 

How can others follow your journey?  Twitter – Facebook etc. links here. 

On FB, I rarely post to my author page, although it would be nice if people visited at https://www.facebook.com/thaisafrankbooks.

My personal FB page, which I use a lot, is https://www.facebook.com/thaisa.frank

Website:  www.thaisafrank.com

Twitter:https://twitter.com/ThaisaFrank

Twisted Tales is an annual flash fiction competition celebrating (Inter)National Flash Fiction Day, published by Raging Aardvark Publications. Judged by a panel of experienced short story writers and editors, submissions over the last four years have been extremely high quality; making the job of the judge a difficult one. Authors are drawn from around the globe and stories ranging from lighthearted tales of childhood memories, to gruesome stories to make the reader shiver.

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