Interview with Rebecca Gomez Farrell - 3rd place winner in the Summer '09 Flash Fiction Contest
Rebecca Gomez Farrell, a Californian with a bad case of wanderlust, moved to the East Coast following college, thinking to improve her writing by gaining more life experiences. Now, she writes, edits and blogs from her home in Durham, North Carolina. Rebecca is amazed she placed in a writing contest.
Using the pseudonym, The Gourmez, Rebecca reviews restaurants, cocktails, and wines. She also blogs about her lifelong passion, General Hospital, for Eye on Soaps. When these writing gigs aren't consuming her time, Rebecca modern short fiction and creative nonfiction. Currently, she's in the midst of a fantasy novel.
If you haven't had the opportunity to read Rebecca's flash piece, Last Complaint, you'll find it on the WOW! contest page. Go on, click over there.
WOW: Rebecca, congratulations on winning third place in the Spring '09 Flash Fiction contest. Last Complaint is intriguing! How did you develop the idea?
Rebecca: Last Complaint has been rolling around in my head since a creative writing course in college. We had an assignment to do a character sketch and I thought up this woman who'd spent her whole life complaining. She was the sort of person that any customer service worker (I worked in a move theater at the time) would be loathe to encounter. I think writing a piece where I could kill off someone like her was cathartic. Over time, she evolved into a character with a few more layers to ground her as a human and not merely a caricature so that the reader wouldn't be as happy to see her meet her end.
WOW: She reminds me of a few people I've encountered. What draws me to the piece is the ripple of tension that runs through it. It's unnerving! Why is conflict important to a story?
Rebecca: Most readers, at the end of the day, want a story. They want something that catches their interest, rises to a climax, and then resolves with a certain level of satisfaction. Conflict of any sort makes this possible. Creating tension within your story is a way to hook people in without needing to supply that much background information or establishing a strong connection with a character, something that is hard to do in short pieces like these. The reader knows something is going to happen but they don't know what or when so they keep reading to find out.
WOW: That's so true. Creating a hook that keeps readers invested is the goal. Your creation of the main character is brilliant. She's self-centered, lonely, demanding, and vulnerable. That's a powerful combination. What does her attitude say about the state of humanity?
Rebecca: Since she spent her life not taking other people's feelings into consideration, she essentially removed herself from humanity and they no longer wish to consider her feelings, either. Through rejecting the simple human connection that comes from things as basic as treating the people around you with respect, she has essentially lost the right to that same treatment herself. Not that I want people to read about a murder and cheer on her death, per se, but I do like that it's a bit of a comeuppance for her and the way she's lived her life.
WOW: Excellent lesson that everyone should remember: treat other's the way you want to be treated. Let's switch gears and talk about your writing career. As The Gourmez, you blog about restaurants and drinks. Some people would consider that a dream job! What are some of the ups and downs of food writing and reviewing?
Rebecca: I started The Gourmez primarily as a way to get myself in the habit of writing regularly, even if it wasn't about fiction, which is my passion. It has done wonders for me in that sense. As a blogger develops a readership, you feel responsibility to keep up your writing for them, not just for yourself any longer. So that definitely has strengthened my writing. However, realizing that what you write, no matter how subjective reviews are, can actually affect someone else's business can be both a negative and a positive thing to learn. Also, it's not the most fun to try and slyly take pictures in an establishment and meals while dining out! But I definitely have gained a strong attachment to my local community, fellow foodies, and so many fascinating people through a shared love of great food, great wine, and great cocktails, for which I am very grateful. That overrules any negative experiences I've had from my writing as The Gourmez.
WOW: A sense of community is so important for writers. That's great that you've built rapport with others through your experience. Another passion you have is for the daytime soap, General Hospital. You blog for Eye on Soaps. What makes daytime drama so fascinating?
Rebecca: Soap operas are all about the payoff for longtime viewing. I've been watching General Hospital since I was five years old and being able to see how characters and story lines develop over decades is fascinating. One character might be cheating on her husband now, but as I've watched her grow up, I don't just chalk it up to a despicable act - I can see how she's doing it because I remember when her father abandoned her when she was only a child and how every boyfriend she's had since has either died or left her. I think being able to see things play out on such a grand scale can give loyal viewers the ability to see how history affects every character's actions, which is something that has definitely made its way into my own writing and I think it's the better for it.
WOW: Great point! History affects each character's actions. I understand you're working on a fantasy novel. Would you mind sharing a bit about your upcoming novel?
Rebecca: My novel is an epic fantasy that deals with what happens when a society allows ignoble qualities to multiply without restraint. The "good" people of my imagined world have allowed those who do not wish to live by society's rules to create their own country rather than deal with how to live together any longer. Fifty years later, the corruption, abuse, and other manners of vile behavior is spilling back over the borders and into their own idyllic world. As it's fantasy, of course, this also involves the generation of creatures that suck out a human's life matter, leaving only a shell behind and a prophecy that foretells the only person who has the power to bring about their destruction since they are invisible to the naked eye. There's horror, there's love, and there are spirits of the dead that advise humanity but few who recognize them for what they are. Did I mention writing fantasy is fun?
WOW: Oh, it definitely sounds like fun! Rebecca, what advice would you offer to your fellow writers?
Rebecca: Write, write, write. Even if you've only got 30 minutes before you roll into bed, try to make a habit of doing a little writing every day. Since I write across many different genres, I find that it's helpful to switch between them if my brain isn't mentally able to handle a particular piece that day.
WOW: Wonderful advice, Rebecca. Again, congratulations on writing a piece with amazing depth and for winning 3rd place in the contest.
Interview by LuAnn Schindler