Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Tricia Bowering: Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Congratulations to Tricia Bowering! She is a runner up in the 2009 Summer Flash Fiction contest. If you haven't read her short story, "Remembrance," yet, then you can check it out here.

Here's a little about Tricia:

Tricia Bowering was born and raised British Columbia, where she eventually studied psychology at the University of Victoria. She now makes her home in Vancouver, where she keeps busy with work and spending time with her family. She recalls writing short stories as early as grade two and all throughout high school, but years of study and work slowly pushed writing aside. Finally, she has returned to writing as a serious pursuit and has enjoyed reconnecting with her creative voice. She looks forward to writing more short fiction and entering lots of contests in the future.

By the way, Tricia's been here before. She also placed as a runner up in the 2009 Winter Flash Fiction contest!

WOW: Congratulations, Tricia, on your second win in WOW!'s flash fiction contests. What made you enter another one of your stories in this contest?

Tricia: It is such an honor to be recognized by the WOW! team for this contest! I truly enjoy the process of writing, and very short fiction is a challenging yet rewarding, medium. Once the story is done, it’s always fun to have your work out there for others to read, and placing in the contest is a bonus. I also appreciate the critique option that’s offered, as it’s always valuable. I took the last suggestions to heart and experimented with a new writing process for this contest.

WOW: Thanks for sharing information about the critique service that is offered with the contest. Many writers have probably wondered if it's worth the extra fee; and obviously, you are benefiting from it! How is this winning story similar to or different from your other story, "When My Grandmother Made Perogies?"

Tricia: The stories ended up having very different styles. In my previous entry, "When My Grandmother Made Perogies," I started with a memory from my distant childhood and developed that idea, so that imagery took center stage. The description of the event (the sights, smells, and feel of making perogies), became a central feature; and the interaction between granddaughter and grandmother was almost secondary. With "Remembrance," I started with a pivotal event: a public health nurse’s visit to an elderly client in the community, suffering from dementia. I tried to use description effectively once again to evoke setting and character; but this time, I focused more intensely on the interactions between the nurse and her elderly client. I also tried to develop a coherent plot with beginning, middle, and end.

WOW: And that's not easy in under 750 words! In this season's story, "Remembrance," you explore the theme of dementia in the elderly. Why did you write a flash fiction story on such a complicated and heartbreaking issue?

Tricia: Indeed, this theme resonates with me; both in my career and personal life, I’ve known individuals who have dementia. This illness forces us to confront our feelings around loss, and it is not easy. I hoped to show that there is so much value in a person’s life (as Anita can see as she tours around the house and sees clues of a life well-lived) and not to forget that when confronted with a person who may need help in the face of this devastating illness. I was also taken with the way that Anita had to confront her fears and sadness over her own mother’s illness, leading to a real sense of connection between Mrs. Simpson and Anita. Their roles as nurse and patient were briefly reversed when Mrs. Simpson comforted her.

WOW: It's easy to see, even from your description here, why this was a winning story. It's a well-crafted story with a well-developed theme. When you sit down to write a flash fiction piece, what is your process?

Tricia: I’m not sure I have one process. Occasionally, the writing flows naturally from a scene in my mind, or a memory; and I sit and write the whole story in one sitting. Other times, like with "Remembrance," I take my time, lingering over each sentence. Often, the hardest part is to get the first draft onto paper; but after that the editing process can be fun--shaping the story into what may turn out to be something quite different than I first imagined.

WOW: I agree 100% that editing and revising your work can be fun. I am always saying to myself, "Just get it on paper. You can do it. It doesn't have to be good." (Smiles) Flash fiction writing usually takes a lot of revision and a lot of word-cutting. (Sometimes, it's harder to write a short piece than a long piece!) What is your revision process like? How do you decide what to cut?

Tricia: As I mentioned, I find self-editing a fun, but challenging, process. In the first draft, I let all my ideas flow freely without much thought to the final product, and that’s a crucial part of my creative process. However, when it comes time to edit, brutal honesty must prevail. For the second draft, I concentrate on story essentials: plot, character, setting, and how description and dialogue help those elements come together. Once I have the story that I want, I pick through the draft several times for unnecessary words, such as those pesky adverbs. Any sentence or description that doesn’t directly serve the story is cut. Flash fiction is good discipline! I usually agonize over the last two or three words for a couple of days before I finally send my submission.

WOW: Let's repeat that quote for all to read again: "Flash fiction is good discipline!" I love how you mention those pesky adverbs and how you agonize over two or three words. It shows in your writing that you're carefully choosing your language and sculpting your work. Have you made any 2010 writing goals or resolutions that you could share with us today?

Tricia: Absolutely. I took a writing course last fall; and now I’ve become a part of a writing critique group. It’s a great development because making a commitment to submit writing for the group every month keeps me motivated. I may take another course later in the year (perhaps on self-editing!), and I’d like to enter another WOW! contest. Thanks again for giving emerging writers this opportunity.

WOW: You're welcome, Tricia, and good luck with your goals. We wish you much success in 2010.

Interview by Margo L. Dill

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Interview with Tricia Bowering, 2009 Winter Contest Runner Up

Born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Tricia Bowering studied Psychology at the University of Victoria. She lives in Vancouver, where she keeps busy working as a physician and spending time with her partner Alan and energetic daughter Sophia. Tricia remembers writing short stories as early as grade two and all throughout high school, but years of study and work slowly pushed writing aside. Finally, she has returned to writing as a serious pursuit, and has enjoyed reconnecting with her creative voice.
If you haven't had the opportunity to read Tricia's wonderful story, When My Grandmother Made Perogies, head to the WOW! site and take time to devour it. Like a fine meal, Tricia's story is meant to be savored.
WOW: Congratulations, Tricia, and welcome to The Muffin. Your story reminds me so much of my grandma. Is this story based on personal experience or is it purely fictional?

Tricia: Much of the fiction that I write starts with a few details from life, either a conversation or an image. In this case, I was able to take some of my memories and build a fictional event around them. My grandmother did indeed make perogies that we devoured on our trips to her house, but my daughter hadn’t been born by the time she moved. In some ways, the story reflects what I wish could have happened. I would have loved for my daughter to enjoy the same cherry tree climbing and perogie eating that I did. The story is really a tribute to my grandmother, and her important traditions.

WOW: Those are great memories! Your grandmother sounds like a marvelous woman. Your story definitely fits into a 'keepsake' category. Why are stories that preserve family values and traditions important to tell?

Tricia: Reflecting on the past, and incorporating it into our own lives can be important in many ways. I find myself wanting to explore the themes of my childhood as I get older, perhaps as a means of connecting to previous generations. Now that I have my own home and family, I’m trying to create traditions of my own. I’m beginning to understand the ways that my grandparents and parents instilled a sense of meaning in my life, and I don’t want to lose those memories.

WOW: Keeping and building traditions is so important. Your family will appreciate them as they grow, too. You use a quite a few sensory details. Why is it important to use those details to paint a vivid picture for the reader?

Tricia: Without a lot of action in the story, vivid description became particularly important. I tried to describe the scene as if from a child’s point of view, with all the wonder that it encompassed. Since the story was so much about the perogies, I wanted the process of making them to come to life, evoking a special time and place. I used other details about the house and the past to create a sense of nostalgia, something I felt while writing.

WOW: (smiles) That sense of nostalgia comes across. Let's talk about the writing process. What's your writing routine like?

Tricia: It’s irregular, at best. When I have a writing project on the go, I tend to set aside writing time each day. My mantra is “an hour a day for writing”. However, when life gets busy, or I’ve just finished a piece, I tend to slow down a bit. Sometimes, it’s just a few hours of writing on a day off, once a week.

WOW: Great mantra! Even experienced writers need to be reminded of that. It's difficult to always make time to write, and you are a busy woman. How do you balance working in the medical field with family and writing time?

Tricia: First off, family comes first! Balance in life is difficult and I’m always busy, but I try not to use that as an excuse. Although finding time to write has been a challenge, I feel such a sense of accomplishment and pleasure in crafting and completing a story that it’s so worth it. It’s only been a year since I’ve taken up writing again, and reconnecting with the creative part of myself has been a great journey.

WOW: Good for you! Keep on the "write" path! Due to study and work, you weren't able to express your creativity. Why is it important for people to stay connected to their creative voice?

Tricia: So many parts of my life are enriching. Both work and parenting challenge me in different ways, but as I begin to have a bit more spare time, life is quiet enough to allow me to reflect on my experiences. Beginning with a blank page and ending up with a finished story that is meaningful to me is very satisfying. It challenges me in different ways than studying and working. I’m sure that the importance of creativity is different for each one of us.

WOW: That's so true. It depends on what our interests are. What types of writing do you prefer? Has any of your work been published elsewhere?

Tricia: I’m still exploring different types of writing, and it’s a fun process. I like to write flash fiction and longer short stories, taking my inspiration not only from life events, but also from interesting contest prompts. At the moment, I’m having fun rediscovering language, playing with phrases and description. I’ve never used my thesaurus so much! I’ve not been published yet, but here’s hoping…

WOW: We'll keep our fingers crossed for you! What projects are you currently working on?

More short fiction. I’ve got lots of ideas in my head waiting to be written down, and the difficulty is which one to tackle first. As for the future, who knows? I’m enjoying the journey right now.

WOW: And enjoying the journey is so important for a writer. Good luck with your endeavors. What advice would you offer to fellow writers?

Tricia: Taking up writing again has shown me that it’s never too late to start something new. I hope that these contest events inspire more women on their own pathways to creativity.
Interview by LuAnn Schindler

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