Interview with Greta Igl

Welcome to another author interview. As you might have noticed, we skipped September and October. This was, in part, for a very good reason. Trying to post an interview for a particular month’s most-read author only 15 days after the end of the month was extremely trying both for the interviewer and the interviewee in terms of scheduling. Also, that format tended to favor stories published at the beginning of the month, as they had more time to accumulate reads.

So, from now on, we will still be running interviews on the 15th, but one month later. The interview with October’s most-read author will be airing on the 15th of December, and November’s most-read author will be featured in January.

Today’s interview is with September’s most-read author, Greta Igl, author of “Free“. We hope you enjoy it!

Interview with Greta Igl

EDF: What should people expect when they see a story with your byline under it?

GI: I pay close attention to psychology in my writing, what makes my characters tick, what their compulsions might drive them to do. My characters often have a black hole, some wound that leaves them empty. How they fill it drives their stories.

Beyond that, I’d say my signatures are setting, poeticism, and intentional ambiguity. I treat setting as a character in most of my work and I love using poetic imagery to lull and immerse the reader in it. I like the ebb and flow of language in a paragraph, how words and punctuation work together to create rhythm and pace. And I like to let the reader bring his or her experience to complete the story. I respect the individual life stories of my readers. They have every right to work in tandem with the text to create their own subjective meaning from it.

EDF: The protagonist in “Free” sees the fantastic in a loved one, but chooses to remain rooted in the mundane. Is this a common theme in your writing?

GI: Yes and no. I tend to favor the same kinds of unanswerable quandaries. The tension between our perception of the world and the world as it really exists. The choice of whether or not to act. I like a character who’s hiding just a bit from his reality. He has both his real world consequences and his illusions to lose.

EDF: Your blog, “For Write or Wrong“, mentions that you are currently working on finishing your 2007 NaNoWriMo novel, Jamieson’s Folly. Do you approach flash the same way you approached novel writing? What differences did you encounter?

GI: In general, I take the same approach. The character creates his or her own critical situation. From that, a story arc emerges.

The obvious difference is length and, with a novel’s length, the opportunity to develop the story arc. In flash, there’s generally a single plot point, so story arc is more straightforward. In a novel, I build the story in sections, creating several smaller plot points that build in suspense to the final climax. There are more opportunities for the main character’s fortunes to wax and wane. And more opportunities to develop intriguing subplots and supporting characters.

EDF: Your bio lists a plethora of writing credits, reading like a who’s who of the flash fiction markets. What techniques do you use to write effective flash?

GI: I always start with character and from character, the tension I mentioned. Once I know that aspect of a character, I see the critical problem that needs to be solved. I pay close attention to creating an immersive setting and building a complete story arc. Even with a short form like flash, you need a beginning, middle and end.

EDF: What has been your best moment as a writer so far? Your worst?

GI: My best moment was completing NaNoWriMo in 2007. I’m not a fast writer and I had to step outside my comfort zone and trust my creative instinct to just move my story forward. I tried things I’d never tried before, like working with a basic blueprint. Before I started Jamieson’s Folly, I had a clear idea how it would end, but little idea of how I’d get there. Mainly, I just jumped in with both feet and prayed. At the end of the month, I’d written this surprisingly cohesive novel. In that moment, I knew I was a real writer.

My worst moments were the months and months of rejections I endured before I had my first acceptance. I think as writers, we put tremendous pressure on ourselves to publish if we want to be “real writers”. I’ve since learned being a real writer is about sitting my butt down and writing, that it’s about commitment rather than some magical talent. But back then, I wasn’t so secure in my ability to get there. I needed the validation.

EDF: Where and when do you write? What music or other background noise do you prefer, or silence? And does the physical / background environment influence or affect your writing?

GI: I write in my crowded, messy office while my daughter naps or attends preschool. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so my writing time is tight. I write whenever I can. I don’t like any distractions, but I’ve learned to work with Beauty and the Beast playing in the background. I’m learning to be flexible and to work with what I’m given.

The physical environment influences me greatly. I find travel stimulating and rarely come home from any trip without at least one story. I find characters everywhere I go. And the natural world makes me hunger to paint it in words. I always travel with a fresh notebook and a fistful of pens. If I can, I bring my laptop. And I never, ever leave home without a small notepad in my purse.

EDF: What is next for you as a writer?

GI: Finishing Jamieson’s Folly! It’s a long haul editing a novel when your writing time shrinks daily. But I’m determined to get this novel out there. My protagonist, Nick, is an amazing guy and he’s given me an amazing story. He deserves for me do him justice.

EDF: Thank you for your time.

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