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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with Melanie Haney

Melanie Haney is an award-winning author of literary short stories. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Family Circle Magazine, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Eureka Literary Magazine, Blue Earth Review, Quality Women's Fiction, Relief Journal and other venues.

She is the author of The Simplest of Acts and Other Stories, currently available. And she has various stories available for reading online.

As promised here is a short interview with Melanie. You can read my review, and enter the giveaway of my gently used book here.

Enjoy :)

1) You capture and convey the feelings of your characters impeccably. What are your inspirations for these stories?

I honestly wish I knew. It would make my writing life much easier if I had a known source of inspiration to return to. The truth is, I sit down and have no idea where a story is coming from or where it's going to take me until it's done. Though, having said that, there are certainly places I've been in my life, both emotionally and physically that have left their fingerprints on the stories in this particular collection. I have lived and done service work in Transylvania, which definitely inspired aspects of at least two of the stories in The Simplest of Acts.

I know that if I'm haunted by something - the memory of a dirt-smudged child's face, or the sick, sinking feeling of letting go of something loved before I was prepared - I'll most likely write about it in one form or another. So, in that sense, I suppose I'm inspired by nothing and everything all at once.

2) Congratulations on the recent birth of your baby. You are obviously a busy mom, so how do you find the time to write? Do you try to set time aside or jot random thoughts down during the day and get back to them later?

Thank you! Yes, I am pretty busy and distracted lately (the word scatterbrained comes to mind.) I don't have a particular writing routine or ritual, though I know that I should. I have at least fifty document files on my laptop with bits and pieces of stories, potential characters, disembodied conversations, all looking for a home.
What's frustrating is I tend to be most creative when I'm sitting in the car or taking a shower, times when I'm completely unable to write anything down. And so I find myself repeating an idea or a turn of phrase that I don't want to lose, over and over again until I'm able to get to my computer or a notepad and jot it down. Whether it winds up in a scrap document or in a story? The odds are fifty-fifty. At the time all I care about is being free of it.

3.) What is your favorite genre to read? Do you have a favorite novel or collection of stories? Favorite author?

Lately, as my time is so limited, my favorite genre is literary short fiction (surprise, surprise, I know.) I really should try to carve out more time and immerse myself in a good novel soon, especially as I'm attempting to write one. Some of my favorite short story authors are Susan Minot, Alice Munro, Grace Paley, Raymond Carver.
My favorite collection of stories is Monkey's by Susan Minot. I think this is in part, because her writing is very familial based, which I relate to, writing mostly about inner workings of relationships and families, but also her writing is just vivid and lovely. Also, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley and just about any of Alice Munro's short fiction is right up there too.

4) What are your plans for the future? What would you like to do in the future?

I am a terrible planner, but I can tell you what I would like to be doing in the future. At the moment, I'm very splintered, divided between too many obligations and feeling as though I am not fully succeeding at any. I'm a mother to three under the age of five, I work part time as an office drone and I have obligations to my family and my church, all while attempting to write and market my work. It's exhausting.

What I would like is to finish my novel-in-progress by the end of this year, sell it for a fabulous profit and then quit my day job, move to a big farm house where I can sit on the porch, sipping strong coffee and writing, while my children play in our vast yard, comprised of the greenest grass on earth.

More realistically, I have my MFA and would really enjoy teaching writing at the college level at some point. And ultimately, I would like to raise happy and compassionate children who grow into confident and caring adults - and if I manage to write something of worth, something that's able to touch another person in the process, then I'll consider myself blessed.

5) Do you have a favorite quote? If so, what is it?

I have many. But this one dates all the way back to high school, and it's still my favorite.

From On The Road by Kerouac:"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see a blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'..."

I can only hope to be so passionate in all things myself.

Thank you so much for these questions and for the opportunity, Jenny, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
All my best,

Melanie =)

I hoped you enjoyed getting to know Melanie a bit more. Thank you, Melanie for being my first author interview ever!


Sneaky Momma said...

What fun! I love your interview idea. :)
I, too, get most of my ideas when I am unable to write them down. I heard a tip not too long ago about taking a dry erase marker into the shower to write on the walls. Haven't tried it yet, but thought I'd pass it on!

Teddyree said...

Well done on your 1st author interview with Melanie Haney. Wow a new baby and writing, what a challenge!

Anonymous said...

I love this interview! Great job :) And I LOVE her quote. I need to write that down.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

Great job with your first author interview, Jenny!

I appreciated all of Melanie's in-depth answers. Like her, inspiration seems to strike me when it's not convenient to take notes - while showering, driving, or drifting off to sleep. I've put a notepad next to my bed, and I can jot notes at stoplights, but I haven't conquered the shower dilema yet!

Jenny Girl said...

Dawn: Thanks! I also do most of my best thinking and brainstorming in the shower. I keep paper on my desser, and just keep talking to myself until I'm finished in the bathroom. It must be the mindless activity of showering :)

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