by Rumjhum Biswas
Myfanwy Collins was born in Montreal, Canada. She grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state. Currently she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and child. If you read her blog, you will get quick glances of Myfanwy Collins, the mom, wife, friend, daughter, etc. These sightings are not too much, just enough to give you a sense of the person beyond the writer. And then I came across her in The Nervous Breakdown, and was delighted to read her interview by Mathew Batt, where I learned that there is one thing one should never ask Myfanwy!
But coming back to the writer, Myfanwy Collins’s work has been published in The Kenyon Review, AGNI, Cream City Review, Quick Fiction, and Potomac Review. Echolocution is her debut novel, in which she “lays bare the hearts of three lost women called together by their own homing instincts in a season that will change their lives–and the place they call home–forever”. To read the reviews of her novel go here. A collection of her short fiction, I Am Holding Your Hand, is now available for pre-order from [PANK] Books. In this collection of short fiction Myfanwy Collins creates worlds where “an array of tender, stark, authentic, and sometimes very lost souls discover a reason to live through their capacity to see beauty in the everyday and instead of coming to conclusions, they discover a way to begin again”. She is represented by Penn Whaling at the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. To read more of Myfanwy’s work and about her, visit her at: http://www.myfanwycollins.com.
Rumjhum Biswas: What draws you to the short story?
Myfanwy Collins: As a writer, I enjoy the compression of thought. As a reader, I love the nearly instantaneous impact of emotion.
RB: Between regular length short stories and flash fiction which do you enjoy writing more?
MC: I don’t have a preference, honestly. They both present challenges and moments of joy.
RB: You have recently brought out a collection of short fiction: I am Holding Your Hand. Can you tell us about it?
MC: It is actually not officially published until January 2013. Right now the review copies are out. It is a collection of both flash fiction and short stories, representing the past 10+ years of my work. I am incredibly excited to present it to readers and hope they will be enthusiastic about it.
RB: Is there a story or two in the collection, I am Holding Your Hand, that is/are your personal favorite/s? Tell us why.
MC: Great question. I guess I would have to say the first story (the title story) of the collection and the final story of the collection “Look Up. Look Up” are my personal favorites. The title story is a flash fiction piece I wrote on a prompt from Eric Spitznagel when he was an editor at Monkeybicycle. He was looking for holiday stories and I wrote this one about a girl who is sick on Christmas eve and Christmas day. It ends with the death of her father as projected into the future and yet seen from the past (if that makes any sense). The final story is a short story about a woman who is mourning the death of her mother and acting out in inappropriate ways. In the end, she reaches a moment of peace and clarity, which is all any of us can ask for. I appreciate these stories because they speak to me on a personal level as well as, I hope, on a universal level to readers.
RB: You are a mom, wife and writer. Can you give us a glimpse of your writing day?
MC: Well, we all have our challenges and obstacles in finding time to get to our writing. Some of those challenges are mental and some are physical. I had no idea before I was a mother how fractured my brain would become. In many ways, these fractures have led me to a higher understanding of my own life, which enriches my writing. In other ways, this means that I often feel slow and dimwitted from exhaustion.
All this is to say, I don’t have a typical writing day. As I write these responses right now, I’m doing so in the two hour window I have each weekday while my son is at Kindergarten. I also write this without having worked on my work-in-progress (or work-not-in-progress) since October 12th. Life is sticky and tricky and gets in the way. I’ve been sick. I’ve been working on programs for my community and for my son’s school. My brain is totally fried.
Here’s what I know, though, at some point soon I will find a window to get back to that project and I will write my heart out. It will be done in fits and starts but it will be done.
RB: When did you realise that you were a writer?
MC: I realized when I was a child. I didn’t fully admit it to myself until I was in college, though. I didn’t feel like I deserved to write or deserved to think of myself as a creative person, even though everything in my life was leading me down that path.
RB: Did anyone inspire you? Who were the writers or people in your life you looked up to as a child/during your growing years?
MC: My parents were big readers. I fully credit them with my love of reading. It’s from that love of reading that my desire to write came. Also, probably from having a somewhat traumatic childhood and wanting to find a voice in the world.
RB: Do you have a preference for dark fiction? What genres do you generally enjoy writing?
MC: I would like to write something inspiring and hopeful because I often feel inspired and hopeful, but my writing mind seems to be drawn to the dark. I do so enjoy humor and hope that that comes through in some of my writing.
RB: In your novel Echolocation you explore the lives of three lost women held together by their homing instincts. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the novel. And a bit about your central characters, if that is permissible?
MC: The central characters are all women trying to find a sense of family and belonging. Life has been hard on them and yet they have each found a singular strength to get them through.
RB: Would you like to talk about your newer projects?
MC: I’d rather not, if that’s okay. I’ve learned that it does me no favors to share my work or my ideas too soon. Instead, I should spend that energy writing.
RB: What advice would you give to writers that are just beginning to write flash?
MC: The first flashes you write will probably not be your best (mine sure weren’t!), but keep going. Find a group of like-minded writers with whom you can share your work. Learn from critiquing the work of others. Most importantly: keep reading and keep writing.
Rumjhum Biswas is a writer currently living in Chennai. She has been published all over the world, and her work has won prizes and commendations in India and abroad, including first prize in the Anam Cara Short Story Competition June 2012. Her novel, Culling Mynahs and Crows” and a collection of her short stories are slated to be published in 2013 by Lifi Publications, India.