Our first interview for this issue comes from Brianne Kohl, who won our latest fiction contest with her story “Her Feminine Circumstance.”
Describe your work in 25 words or less.
Typically dark, although unintentionally. I try to be honest and let the story speak for itself. My brain has a lot of shadows, I suppose.
Tell me about your story “Her Feminine Circumstance.”
Well, it started from a four paragraph writing prompt which is really challenging. I do like writing flash fiction but holding yourself to a strict length means you can only use essential words to tell the story. Only the barest of bones. It forces you to trust the reader – they will get it without you over explaining (which is something I have a tendency to do. In my first drafts, I tend to panic at the end and explain everything like an episode of Scoobie Doo. So, I almost always cut out my last paragraph in revision). In this case, I wanted to explore the connection between the power of femininity and nature.
How does it feel to win the contest? Is it your first time?
This is my first time! And, it feels amazing! I’ve been a writer for a long time but I’ve really just started submitting my work a few months ago. Sharing my writing is a brand new experience for me. I get a ton of rejections and I’ve had some successes (like this one) that have really pumped me up.
Where did you hear about the contest?
I learned of your contest through Duotrope’s email newsletter – Upcoming Themed Deadlines section. I like themes because I’m always looking for some writing prompt that gets me excited. I recommend www.duotrope.com to any writer interested in submitting their work for publication.
What or who inspires you to write?
I take a lot of inspiration from nature and really try to focus on the cultural ecology of a story. Sometimes, a word or phrase will ping in my head and I’ll want to explore it. I try not to focus too much on plot because I’ll overwhelm myself so I’ll think of a situation and write my way out of it. Nothing is more inspiring than knowing when a story comes together and its tight and clean.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
So many – Reading Joyce Carol Oates’s “Black Water” was the first time I realized how powerful fiction could be. I love Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Margaret Atwood, Gillian Flynn and Jeffrey Euginedes. I love Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. I really admire funny writers like Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde. I’m sort of all over the place with my reading.
Do you have a blog/website?
Yes, I do! www.briannekohl.com
Please come visit me!
What are you working on right now?
I’m in a fabulous writing class so I have weekly assignments which really keep me hopping. But, I love it because if I were left to my own devices, I’d tinker until it broke. Getting feedback and being in a workshop with other writers that are really good keeps me inspired. Having a deadline keeps me motivated. And, the more I write, the better I feel I am at it.
Any advice for other writers?
Be serious about it, if it is something you really love to do. But, don’t take yourself too seriously. Readers want to read so have some faith. Being a writer and submitting your work can feel like a thankless job, sometimes. Rejections hurt (Seven rejections in a row will make you want to only wear black and talk about your feelings with EVERYONE. Three in one day? Straight to bed. Trust me on that). But, the only way to get better is to keep doing it. You will eventually gain some traction and when that happens, it is the best feeling in the world.
And, believe it or not, sometimes a rejection is a good thing. I’ve gotten a little excited (read: drunk) and submitted things before their time. And, of course, they get rejected. But, then, I’ve gone back and fixed the things that weren’t working. I’m usually much happier if I give a story time to mature. That’s when my work has been accepted – when I give my story the time and work it needs.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks for reading.