Tuesday, December 22, 2009

 

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

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Friday, November 20, 2009

 

Friday Speak Out: I Wish I Were A Packrat, Guest Post by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

I Wish I Were A Packrat

by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

I lost six years of my life. Okay, I’m being a tad dramatic. I lost six years’ worth of word processor documents. They’re gone. They left for the great recycling bin icon in the sky and some jerk emptied it. I’m the jerk.

A few years ago, I decided the old college laptop had to go. It had been wacky since my roommate borrowed it for a night of feverish essay typing and spilled a mug of coffee on it. The keys sank down like molasses when you pressed them and came up 1. . . 2 . . .3 seconds later with a loud click. The down arrow key would possess the cursor, sending it on a race down the monitor, which no control-alt-delete combination could halt.

My new laptop came, with its shiny casing and fancy Windows XP. I installed the software, then made a cup coaster out of the AOL trial CD-ROM.

“Honey,” I asked my fiance when I finished, “we already backed up my files to the server, right?”

“Yep, they’re under Becca’s documents,” he assured me. “You click on the icon for My Network and—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I cut him off. I may not be a computer genius, but I thought I knew that much.

Stop! Check the files! The alarm bells go off in my head now, but they didn’t then.

A few months after that fateful day, I clicked through row after row of pixilated manila folders, hoping, in between my wedding guest list and hotel reservations, to catch a glimpse of Mr. Palen’s tan jacket as he held my hand while walking me the school office when I was 10. He was my teacher when my father died and I had written about him in a piece that I wanted to revise.

I still haven’t found him. Nor have I find my friend Ruth. I did a character sketch based on her once. When someone pissed her off, she would catch my eye and trace a checkmark in the air with her pointer finger. Then, she’d mime killing him or her, perhaps by pulling back a crossbow wire and releasing it. My personal favorite was her duck, roll, and rifle shoot. Her blonde ponytail would bounce with each trigger pull.

It’s most painful to accept the loss of my college papers. How many sleepless nights’ work are now gone? I’d tangled with Twain’s inner demons, battled the titan of Homeric verse, and analyzed depictions of African American manhood from slavery to OJ. Yes, I still have my degree, but none of the work that earned it.

In my dreams, I catch a glimpse of that lost folder of Word documents, just beyond my Excel spreadsheets and resume versions. It beckons me to double-click it, like a ghostly guide pointing toward a cave of treasure. If I just keep my eyes closed long enough . . .

Rebecca Gomez Farrell, a Californian with a bad case of wanderlust, migrated to the East Coast after college, thinking to improve her writing by gaining more life experiences. She presently writes, edits, and blogs from Durham, NC. Under the pseudonym, The Gourmez, she writes reviews of restaurants, cocktails, and wines as well as a weekly column on her lifelong obsession, General Hospital. She also writes modern short fiction, creative nonfiction, and is working on a fantasy novel.

You can view Becca’s work at http://blog.thegourmez.com/, http://eyeonsoaps.net/, and http://carpedurham.com/.



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Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.

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