Fri 11 Jun 2010
As part of our continuing series of interviews with the authors of the most-read stories at Every Day Fiction, I welcome Mickey Mills to Flash Fiction Chronicles. His story, The Newly Dead of Winter, was the most-read tale at EDF for the month of April.
Flash Fiction Chronicles: Thanks you for taking the time to sit down with me, Mickey.
Mickey Mills: Thank you for this opportunity.
FFC: The Newly Dead of Winter is written from a female perspective, and illustrates a mother-daughter dynamic that readers referred to as “great” and “nicely done” – how do you get into character when writing something like this?
MM: My background is engineering, so my tendency is to approach character building like an engineering project. I will build a character “Spec” sheet which includes things like age, race, size, mannerisms, voice, family, and anything else that would shape that character. I like adding something quirky about the character. Like in Newly Dead, having my main character born on a river in Florida because her mom was going to go fishing, pregnant or not, was part of character building. It set the tone for their early relationship.
FFC: As a writer, what motivates and inspires you?
MM: I find inspiration all around me in the simplest of things. People, places, things, pictures, music, art, etc… I am constantly looking at events in people’s lives and asking myself – what’s the story? When I find myself dry of inspiration, I will get on my motorcycle and ride. Riding requires so much focus, it allows me to clear my head of everything and think about inspiration.
FFC: Who or what do you credit as your biggest influence with regards to your writing?
MM: This is actually a very tough question as I never saw myself as a writer growing up, which is kind of odd, considering I constantly had my nose in a book. (I had the complete Hardy Boys series, but don’t spread that around.) My father was a builder, so I saw myself more in some kind of engineering or architectural field. When I graduated from college, I took a job in Raleigh, NC., which put me smack in the middle of NASCAR country. I had always been a big racing fan and I got the opportunity to do some media work for NASCAR. I traveled to several of the major tracks in the south doing real-time race reporting and was one of the early pioneers of internet reporting in motor sports. It was in that activity that I acquired the taste for writing. I was told I was pretty good at it. Stroke my ego, and I am all in.
FFC: What is the best writing advice you’ve received so far? The worst?
MM: Actually the best advice is the simplest advice. It’s practically a “duh” statement, but I’m sure every writer needs to be constantly reminded to just write. What I mean by that is to forget about how good or bad the story is as you are writing it. The important thing is to write it. I like what James Michener said – “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
I can’t put my finger on the worst, because the worst was still pretty darn good.
FFC: What advice would you give to other writers – accomplished or aspiring?
MM: I think the last question answers this one quite nicely. Just write.
To that I would add, take off the blinders. Look at everything that happens as a story building opportunity. To me, story is paramount. A writer can throw together colorful words and marvelous metaphors, but the story is the glue that holds them together. The best writers are good storytellers. I’d rather read an average writer telling a fantastic story, than a fantastic writer telling an average story.
FFC: Where do you see yourself and your writing in the future – say, a year from now?
MM: Since Oprah is ending her long running show, not there.
I see myself sitting at a book signing, having just launched the second title in my Phoenix Worthy – Paranormal Investigator series. Oh, you aren’t familiar with it? Check out my website at www.theprodigalscribe.com. You can read all about the first book in the series, HAUNTING INJUSTICE.
To close, I’d like to thank you and the editorial team at EDF and FFO for the work they do daily to provide a creative outlet. I’m humbled by this honor, considering the caliber of fiction my work stands with.
FFC: And thank you for sharing this with all of us. We wish you continued success in your endeavors.
Tanya L. Schofield is the Assistant Editor of Flash Fiction Chronicles.