Below is my Interview with Nicole Monaghan. We discuss her new book, “Want, Wound”, talk craft and discuss how being an editor plays into being a writer.

WITTLE How do you approach writing a flash fiction piece? Do you think of a character or a situation or a theme? Or all of the above?

MONAGHAN Most often a phrase or sentence pops into my head, or I overhear one, and I feel compelled to build a story around it. Occasionally I will create a story around a situation or theme that I feel the need to write about.

WITTLE When it came time to select the stories for your collection, how did you go about that process?

MONAGHAN When I looked at the body of work I’d published, two major themes emerged, the ones where stories center around a character’s desires and the ones where the central character has suffered an emotional wound. Hence, “Want, Wound.” The ones I felt didn’t quite fit into those two categories were excluded.

WITTLE I’ve heard some think the last story in the collection of books is the way in which an author puts the stories in order. How did you pick the order for your collection and what would be the final message of your final story?

MONAGHAN I think I tended toward putting the ones I felt were strongest at the beginnings and ends of the two sections. The beginning to hook the reader and keep them reading, and the end to leave off with a bang. Interesting about the last story theory. I’ve never heard that.

The final story, “It Hits Me” is about a mother realizing that her young son’s antics are something she should enjoy rather than fret over, as she remembers the pain of a mother who lost her son and who’d give anything to have him back and experience anything with him again at all. I think the message there is just to learn from wounds, whether they be yours or someone else’s.

WITTLE In your literary magazine, Nailpolish Stories, the main hook is using a nail polish color title to inspire a story. What other ways or objects do you feel inspire your stories?

MONAGHAN I think it’s possible for any object to inspire a story because any object has the potential to hold significance for a character. Often that unusual thing, given meaning by a character’s experience of it, can be the crux of a story.

WITTLE In the collection the section on Want comes before Wound. Do you feel in life our wants can lead to our wounds?

MONAGHAN Yes! I think in most cases, our desires are what lead us to become wounded. We want something, and we either get it (eventually) or we don’t. Usually, either way, we experience pain.

WITTLE In the story, “One Could Do Worse” you explore the want of the narrator to have a passionate first kiss with a girl. The story ends with things not going as planned. Could you explain the many ways the title reflects the story besides the obvious one about the kiss?

MONAGHAN The title was a given writing prompt! I also wanted to write a story from a teenage boy’s perspective and to figure out what it would be like for him to finally have that kiss with the girl he’d lusted after throughout high school just as that chapter of his life was ending. He was feeling the pressures of college upon him and dealing with bigot parents. I wrote the story around imagining what he might respond to his parents if they asked him why he’d want to be with a girl who they’d think was below him.

WITTLE In the story, “Spell” the reader meets a spelling bee champ who uses words to drown out the world around her. Could you briefly discuss how this story came to form in your mind?

MONAGHAN The kids were watching a movie about a girl in a spelling bee, and immediately I used that as a setting to flesh out this young girl who always won, was always successful and yet never felt celebrated by her parents.

WITTLE If you had to pick your favorite story from the collection, which one would it be and why?

MONAGHAN I really like “What Madison Sees,” the first one, as I think the fact that it’s “an outsider’s” piece makes it relatable. I also really like “These Babies I’m Not Having.” This one happens to be mostly autobiographical, and I think it’s one of my better written pieces in terms of the simplicity of the language. I love simple language.

WITTLE How does being an editor play into your own writing process?

MONAGHAN It makes me remember why I love writing. Reading submissions from people all over the world and from all walks of life refreshes my memory about how writing can connect people who are different. Everyone understands longing, love, and loss.

WITTLE What are you working on next?

MONAGHAN I haven’t written any new fiction in a long time. My most recent writing has been nonfiction, which I always post at my blog, http://www.writenic.wordpress.com. I recently wrote about watching my son play sports. Some day, I’d like to publish a collection of nonfiction pieces.

I’d like to thank Nicole Monaghan for taking time out to answer my questions. To get your copy of “Want, Wound” please go to http://burningriver.info/?page_id=1879.

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