How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
I did some writing when I was a teenager, but then life got in the way and I took a 20-year hiatus. At 39, I finally finished my undergrad degree. I’d been taking some local history classes and I had a lot of questions about what happened to the mixed-race offspring of the marriages that were formed during the fur trade, once Americans began settling the Puget Sound region. At the same time, I read an article about a young Native American doctor who was working on the reservation where I live. He was the inspiration for the protagonist of a historical novel I knew I had to write. For the past seven years, I’ve been working on the book and learning craft, but also getting sidetracked by short fiction, memoir, and essay.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
I like the challenge of telling a story with brevity and making each word count.
Describe your writing process.
Often my writing is triggered by an unanswerable question, e.g.:
- “Why did that happen?”
- “What in the world possessed him to do that?”
- “What would happen if…?”
I write to find the answers for myself—to reconcile the event in my mind. Other times, I am so frustrated by modern times, I just want to escape and go back in time to, say, the Wild West, or even the 80s. I typically start with a character and then build a rough outline to make sure the plotting will work and go from there. I also love to research. Unearthing historical gems that have been lost to time and bringing them to light is a thrill.
What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?
My daughter mentioned a while back that one of her friends was taking Molly. I know kids experiment with drugs. My friends did. But in my years as a corrections officer, I saw many hundreds of promising young lives destroyed by drug addiction. Drugs are bad. All of them.
What are you working on now?
In addition to revising my novel (the worst part of writing), I’m writing a little bit of everything. Visit me at www.marysenter.com.