Author Lisa Fox is living example of the benefits of following your dreams and remaining true to yourself. After abandoning writing for some time to focus on work and family, she recently returned to her craft with tales including “The Fruit Stand”, one of our favorite short stories from the recently published SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY.crime anthology. Lisa competed in the 2018 NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest, placing third in a pack of more than 3,000 authors with her story, “A Mother Should Know.”
In the following brief interview, Lisa talks about the writing process, flash fiction, and what’s coming next.
When did you start to write and what prompted you to begin writing?
I started writing poetry when I was in high school and continued throughout college. But unfortunately, once the demands of work and life kicked in after graduation, I stopped writing creatively. When I reached 40, I had a bit of an awakening (well, it may have been the start of a mid-life crisis…) and realized that it’s foolish to give up the things we love just because life gets busy. With the right balance, it’s possible to fit your dreams in with the day-to-day that reality brings, and it took me a long time to reach that realization. Writing has always been an outlet for me, a way of exploring people, exploring the world and all the “what if” possibilities that are out there. Everybody has a story; and sometimes we touch on others’ stories – their hopes, their fears – with the characters and worlds we create. Oh, and I love words. Love them. There is such beauty in our language. With the advent of emojis, I fear that we’re moving back to the caveman days. It’s easier for most people to communicate with a smiley-face than to say how they really feel.
What is your typical process in terms of approaching a story?
I’m not sure there’s a typical process. I’m definitely more a traditional planner than a pantser. When given a writing prompt, I do a pretty intense brainstorm on all the possibilities that can result from that prompt. What does it mean? Who can it impact? Why is it important? Sometimes the plot evolves first. Other times a character screams at me to be written. I outline the basic plot and then once my very ugly first draft exists, I do anywhere from five to eight rounds of pretty violent editing. And I absolutely believe in the strength of beta readers. I’ve got some amazing betas, other writers who have become wonderful friends, who really push me to bring my best to every story.
Tell us about your experience with the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge and what you enjoy or find intriguing about writing prompts.
Funny enough, it was the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest in 2016 that brought me back to writing. I saw a random ad on Facebook and decided to give it a try. And I was hooked. I’ve written everything from Sci Fi to Fantasy to Political Satire to Mystery. The prompts are amazing for sparking my imagination and the deadlines are a necessity – they offer me the opportunity to make a true commitment to my writing. And I’ve had some very weird prompt combinations – the strangest one was Political Satire / Childbirth Class / Dog Biscuit. I almost threw in the towel on that one but I made it work – it’s actually one of my favorite pieces (still looking for a home in the world!). Never in a million years did I think I’d land where I did in this year’s competition. I feel very blessed.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Gosh, what’s not to enjoy? I love creating something out of nothing. I love having someone walk away from my words feeling something they didn’t feel before, or saying, yes! I know what that feels like. To me, a good story is one that you remember long after you close the book. That’s what I aspire to.
What are you currently working on?
Revising the short stories I’ve completed and sending them out for submissions. (I’ve grown a VERY thick skin over the past year or so…and it’s not from eating too many doughnuts! The submissions game is tough!). I’ve also been converting the short screenplays I’ve written to short works of fiction. In fact, “The Fruit Stand,” which is featured in SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY, began as a short screenplay. I’m also earmarking some of my current stories for novel-length expansion…eventually.