Raise the balloons everybody this Saturday for short story writer, C. A. Rowland!
C.A. is currently working on short stories and a mystery novel set in Savannah, Georgia. She is a regular blogger on mostlymystery.com. She’s also a member of Sisters In Crime, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Virginia Writer’s Club, Inc., and Riverside Writers. Her short stories, An Interview with a Rabbit and The Crock of Gold, were originally published in 2013 in the e-magazine, Kings River Life, and An Interview with a Rabbit was included in the anthology, Rappahannock Voices .
With an introduction like that, I'm sure we're all eager to hear more about you. Tell me, what is your all-time favorite short story and why?
My favorite short story is Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. However, I also love Edgar Allan Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado and many more recent stories. Each one struck a chord that has remained with me. One of my writing workshop instructor’s once made the point that short stories are written, at least in part, to provoke an emotional response. Both of these stories had that quality in spades. That’s not to say that all short stories have to do that but these were so well constructed that they touched many people in a way that’s not quickly forgotten.
The Lottery! What a chilling story! You are the first of the Season 1 writers to mention that story - but it is one, I know, that stays with the reader for a long, long time. And readers, if you haven't read it here online. It was written back in 1949, and is just as gripping today as it was back then. Okay, back to the questions, tell me C.A. what is the most difficult part of writing short fiction?
For me, honing the story down is the most difficult part. I have many short stories that quickly move to novella length or longer. In a long work, you can have multiple tangents and subplots, but in a short story you need to try to narrow the story line to one main storyline. In addition, if you are writing for a particular magazine or anthology, you have word count limitations and that can be difficult as well. However, being able to write a solid memorable short story is an dart and the skills can be applied to longer pieces.
What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer?
Write, re-write, re-write and re-write again. Read the work aloud to find rough patches. Have your work critiqued by someone you trust that will provide constructive feedback. Critiques can be extremely helpful but a writer needs to select who to give their work to with care. Preferably someone who has written or likes short stories and someone who knows your genre well.
C.A., which of your short stories should we read first and why?
I am still honing my craft but the story that I would read first is The Gift which was a semi-finalist in Bethlehem Writer’s Roundtable 2014 Short Story contest. Unfortunately, it is not yet available so I don’t have a site or anthology reference for it but as soon as I have one I will post it on my website. Sadie’s Selkie is a quirky story about a woman’s encounter with a summoned selkie and will be available in the anthology, Strangely Funny 2 ½ in the fall/winter. Otherwise, I have 2 stories in King’s River Life which is a free e-magazine and the link to the e-zine is in my bio below.
Where can readers find you C.A.?
Twitter handle: @writer4993