Interview with Sarah Jane Stratford - Runner up in the WOW! Fall 2006 Flash Fiction Contest
Sarah Jane Stratford had such a unique take on our prompt, we just had to find out her motivation behind it. Join us in a discussion with this very talented writer and find out just what she's up to!
WOW: What inspired you to write, The Cat Toy?
SJ: In thinking about a lost pom-pom, I remembered a house I used to pass on my way to school that had an elaborate English garden, even though it was surrounded by hideous modern LA apartments. We called it 'The Enchanted Garden' and occasionally tried to sneak in - just to walk around, very 'Alice in Wonderland'. So I just took the mental leap over the wall and lost a pom-pom in the process.
WOW: And during that leap, you managed to create some very interesting characters: Auntie Ellen who became a nudist, and a scary cat lady who grows exotic vegetables in disturbing shapes. What visuals! Were these characters based on anyone you know?
SJ: Hee-hee! Er, well, yes, but since I'm running the risk of being barred from all family gatherings into infinity, I'd best just say they're an amalgam of people I've had run-ins with over the years.
WOW: Okay, we don't want you to get in trouble, so we'll gracefully change the subject... How did you get into writing screenplays?
SJ: I think very visually and discovered that my written dialogue is much more eloquent than anything that actually comes out of my mouth, so I became addicted to the process of spinning out the sort of conversations I'd rather like to have in real life but rarely do. It's weird, because my real passion is theatre, but I was in LA and it was very much a Roman thing.
WOW: Ah yes, when in Rome. You wrote a contest-winning screenplay entitled, "The Tale of the Torturer's Daughter," a medieval farce about torture, romance, and good hair -- what contest did you enter, and how important do you think having good hair is?
SJ: I entered several - it was a semifinalist in two others and winner in the Comedy category of the Fade In contest. Good hair is one of the pillars of life. It's a goal I strive for every day. That I often fail is of little consequence - it's still a primary force in my life.
WOW: As good hair should be! But from your pic, I can see that you DO have good hair. So, Sarah Jane, what are you working on right now?
SJ: Hoo boy. I'm busy. In addition to sundry strange stories, I'm writing a novel about vampire espionage, a comic script about stalking and reality TV, and the teensy tiny extremely amorphous beginnings of a play that may or may not involve time travel.
WOW: Sounds like you have a ton of interesting projects and plots whirling about your good hair. ;-) Writing seems to come easy for you; what did you find most challenging about entering the WOW! Fall Flash Fiction Contest?
SJ: Getting it polished and sent in time - seriously, I sent it in a whopping 14 minutes before the deadline. What a night that was!
WOW: That's crazy! But you definitely pulled it off. Many writing websites recommend that you get your work in early, but we had quite a few that slid right under the deadline and they did very well. So, do you have any tips on prompt-writing that you'd like to share with other writers?
SJ: Try to plan your time better. It's loads of fun, but 500 words is much trickier than you'd think. No joke - you've got yourself a beast of a page and a half. You might need a whip and chair. (and we all need the fabulous leather boots)
WOW: Yes we do.
Thanks Sarah Jane for a great interview! If you haven't got a chance to read SJ's story, check it out HERE.
Labels: cat toy, Flash Fiction Contest, Sarah Jane Stratford, screenplay, short story, WOW Women On Writing