Meet Laura Havens--Runner-Up Winner of the Summer Flash Fiction Contest
First of all, Laura, congratulations on being a runner-up in our summer contest! What did you do when you found out? Did you scream? Call/email everyone you know? Do a "Happy Dance?"
I was actually extremely excited when I received the email saying that I had made the cut and my little story was off to a Literary Agent in New York. I emailed everyone then...I was just so proud. Then when I received the email saying I was in the top ten, the first thing I did was re-read it 100 times with the goofiest smile on my face. Then I forwarded the email to my four best girlfriends thanking them for their unwavering support. That weekend, whenever I would seem down, my husband would look at me, smile and say "You're a winner!" and I would perk right up.
Your story Stolen Summer Night was a wonderful memoir essay. When I read the piece, I was reminded—as I'm sure others out there can relate—of my own "stolen summer night." What made this particular story one you'd want to write as your favorite summer vacation memory?
My story actually isn't a memoir. I'm afraid to say I never had a "stolen summer night." I do, however, have wonderful memories of a cottage right on the water at Dennisport Beach. Friends of my parents owned the cottage so every summer we would spend a week there, until sadly they had to sell it. My main reason for entering this competition was for the challenge of the word count.
Well, see? Your writing was so good you gave the atmosphere of speaking of a special memory. Excellent job! When did you start writing, Laura?
My parents will tell you that the first story I ever wrote, and would have given Stephen King a run for his money, was in the second grade. I, on the other hand, didn't start writing until College. It has been an on-again, off-again love affair of mine. After I had my son and thought about his future, and how I want him to be able to do anything his heart desires, I realized I've been spending years not allowing myself that same freedom.
I started writing a book I had living inside of me for years. Then I got stuck and was going to give up. Thankfully, I developed a relationship with another writer over in England (Her name is Amanda Morgan and you can check out her work at www.editred.com/amandamorgan) and she has really helped me stay on track and challenge myself.
First, I understand how having children can inspire you to go on with your dreams. And how fabulous you found another writer to help keep you going. You’re obviously inspired by your son; but what else inspires you, Laura? What part of your soul do you tap into to draw story ideas from?
I honestly don't know how to answer this question. I know that stories will come when they are ready to and I try not to worry too much about inspiration. I have an incredible memory so I just try to observe as much of the world around me and store things inside until they manifest themselves. I think most of my stories come from daydreams or fantasies that I have.
Isn’t it funny how something you observe—even in passing—can turn into a great story idea? It sounds like you have terrific sources to tap into. Do you have any publishing credits you’d like to brag about?
This is my first publication; it is also the first contest I have ever entered. Needless to say, I'm thrilled!
Well, we’re thrilled to be your first publishing note. Your list of favorite authors is very impressive. Are these your mentors for writing your short story collection? What sorts of stories will this collection include?
I adore Iris Murdoch because she challenges me as a reader. I admire her (and any authors’) ability to know her characters so completely. Gregory Maguire is an inspiration because he takes characters we have known forever and says, "No, you don't know them!" Jane Austen is just a beautiful story teller and I love her dialogue. The short story collection I have in mind would be called Life: In 500 words or less. I would like to compile at least 100 short stories that are only 500 words and similar in style to Stolen Summer Night.
What a fabulous idea! I admired all of our entrants for attempting our prompt. It’s hard to write a complete story with a small word count maximum. Do you have any words of wisdom for future contestants?
Jump in! The water's fine! The women of WOW-womenonwriting.com are wonderful!
As we close our interview, Laura, do you have any writing in the works we should watch out for, aside from your short-story collection?
At the moment I am only enrolled in one other Flash Fiction contest on www.whimsplace.com . Haven't heard anything yet so cross your fingers for me! For the time being, I'll be working on accepting the idea that I can actually call myself a published author.
We’ll definitely keep our fingers crossed for you, Laura. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and please come back to let us know how your writing career is going.
So, what are you waiting for? Enter our Fall Nonfiction Essay contest now! You never know…maybe the next person we interview as a winner could be you.
I can’t wait to read your stories.
Laura Havens lives in South Eastern Massachusetts with her Husband and young son. When she is not writing, she works full-time as an Executive Assistant. Her favorite authors include Jane Austen, Iris Murdoch, Audrey Niffeneger, and Gregory Maguire. Please feel free to email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org