Martha Katzeff, Fall '09 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up
interviewed by Marcia Peterson
WOW: Congratulations on placing as one of the Runners Up in our Fall 2009 Flash Fiction contest! What inspired you to enter the contest?
Martha: I have a good friend who is also a relatively new writer and we're both always looking for contests to test our skills and storytelling abilities. I like the challenge of competing against other writers in a contest. It levels the playing field.
WOW: Could you tell us a little about your story and what encouraged the idea behind “Get a Fresh Killed Chicken?"
Martha: I initially entered a contest open only to Bronx writers and I wrote a memoir about shopping with my grandmother and mother. When I didn't win that contest, I re-wrote the story as fiction, throwing in a little bit of a speculative fiction/ghost story twist to it.
WOW: Great idea to play around with the story—it worked out well for you. Since you've taken several writing classes, we'd love to know which ones have been your favorites and why?
Martha: My favorite writing classes have been through Gotham Writers' Workshops. I started with Science Fiction I and moved to Science Fiction II which I've taken a few times (online). The instructor for most of the classes has been Michaela Roessener—the author of several wonderful science fiction/fantasy novels. She's very encouraging and loved the idea that one of her homework assignments morphed into this prize winning story!
Science Fiction (or speculative fiction as it's called now) allows me to express my outrageous opinons through fiction in a way that mainstream fiction does not. In sci fi, there are unlimited worlds and experiences to write about.
WOW: It's always interesting to learn about other people's writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?
Martha: I'll probably get into trouble for this, but I do most of my writing at work. Whether for better or worse, I have a low stress job with lots of down time. (I will absolutely not divulge where I work!) Sometimes I write on Sunday while my husband is watching some sporting event. I like the distraction—it helps me think. I wish I did have favorite tools or habits that get me going. I'd write more. That's why I like taking classes—it’s good impetus to keep going.
WOW: Too bad you can’t tell us where you work! I agree that taking writing classes is a great way to force yourself into action. Finally, is there if there was one bit of advice you could pass on to other aspiring writers, what would it be?
Martha: Don't get discouraged by negative criticism. Recently I was told that a story I'm writing isn't really Science Fiction, to which Michaela replied: give 'em the old Bronx cheer!
Ignore unhelpful critiques and keep writing!
Check back on Tuesdays for more contest winner interviews.