As you know, we’ve been visiting with co-authors of Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories, Volume 2.Today, I’d like to welcome Laura Selinsky to my blog. I thoroughly enjoyed Laura’s “Seawall” short story last night. If you have aging parents, you will, too. Here’s the first paragraph:
“There were dunes here once. Great tall dunes. Wright Brothers coulda launched their plane in Jersey rather than down in Carolina. When your grandmother was little, the town fathers burned the dune grass and pulled down the dunes.” Eleanor swept her hand towards the sea.
What inspired you to write this story? After Hurricane Sandy, I was looking at pictures of the destruction of my 85-year-old dad’s hometown, Sea Bright, New Jersey, and I was struck by the cyclical nature of our relationship with the sea. How many times have I seen the seawalls raised and destroyed along the shore, and in alternate eras, how many times have I seen the dunes raised or leveled? I thought that image, the seawall, made an excellent metaphor for the raising and collapsing of walls between people, even in deep-rooted relationships. In the story, I explore that cycle with a mother and daughter.
I know it well, which is perhaps why I connected instantly. The mother-daughter scene in traffic was especially good. It made me remember a trip I took with my mother to Cape May. Shoreline roads are truly challenging, especially with an elderly parent in the passenger seat.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
I’d like them to see the hope of changing cycles in human relationships. The reader and the well-loved may be on opposite sides of a wall now, but no wall stands for ever.
How long have you been writing?
I have written prose and poetry since I was a very little girl. In elementary school, I even wrote an “opera” and twisted my little sisters’ arms until they performed in it for me.
Meanwhile, my siblings were twisting mine so I would stop singing. Ha!
Do you write full-time?
I write daily, as a high school English teacher for students with significant learning difficulties, but most of that writing’s in the form of reports and emails. Last year, I was privileged to write about my students for a national magazine. I edit constantly, working with/for students, friends, and relatives. Fiction-writing, which I love dearly, is limited primarily to school breaks.
Do you only write short fiction? If not, how does writing a short story differ from writing a novel? (Other than the obvious length/time.)
I am passionate about and intimidated by a YA high fantasy series that I’ve worked on for almost a decade- that’s currently two novels and two outlines. From my perspective, the biggest difference between long and short forms is organizational. Making sure that the character’s hair color or nephew’s age or whatever doesn’t shift from chapter to chapter is big. On the practical side, Deadlines are a very effective motivator for me, and the short window deadlines associated with short form writing are wonderful for making me get work done. For novels, there’s no practical equivalent to having a short story drafted in two weeks to fit a submission window.
What does your typical “writing day” look like?
Forty-two weeks a year, there is no “typical”— writing gets shoehorned in between other responsibilities. During spring break week, and six weeks of the summer, I garden early, then write from 9:00 am until I have to start cooking dinner. If I have a challenge, such as a plot problem to unknot, I’ll pack my lunch, as I would for school, and take my lunch bag and coffee into my study, where I’ll confine myself to the computer until the problem is resolved.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Vic James’ contemporary fantasy Gilded Cage and Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.
Other than this spectacular anthology, do you have any recent or upcoming releases you’d like to tell us about?
Right now I am working on two short stories of under 1000 words that I hope to read on an upcoming podcast. Shells is about an autistic child of five and his relationship with his grandmother; I was inspired to imagine the early childhoods of persons with autism. Pooh Sticks imagines the effects of a difficult mother on adult sisters.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
1. Write! And don’t let anyone tell that that you wasting time or doing something trivial. There are people spending hours a day watching reality TV or nattering on about craft beer, so why shouldn’t you pour your time into writing.
2. Find a good critique group and stick with it. I rely on the women with whom I critique to keep my looking honestly at my writing (or my not writing if I’m slacking).
Where can readers learn more about you and your works?
I am easy to find through search engines. The name Selinsky is unique; Laura Nelson Selinsky, even more so. Look for “Laura Selinsky” on Twitter; I’d love to meet readers there.
If my readers search for “Julie Doherty,” they may find Miss Universe UK 2006. Oddly enough, no one has ever mistaken me for her. I wonder why . . .
Thanks for being here, Laura!
Check out My Interviews for more opening paragraphs from great Running Wild Press authors like Laura Selinsky.