Oonah has been one of EDF’s most prolific authors, part of a select few who’ve had their work published in our virtual pages every single month since the magazine opened its doors. Oonah’s writing is lyrical, compelling, and often poetic. We look forward to watching her career take off in the months and years ahead.
Interview with Oonah V Joslin
EDF: What should people expect when they see a story with your by-line under it?
OVJ: I wish I knew. I never know what I’m going to write until I start writing. I like to make people think and I like to make them laugh, I even like scaring them but I don’t have a formula or a genre really. I tend to cross. I’m eclectic in my approach–yes “eclectic”, we like that word . Everybody try to use the word ‘eclectic’ today. It should fit perfectly into most conversations.
“How do you like your eggs?”
EDF: You’ve been making quite a splash in the flash fiction magazines, with recent publications in EDF, MicroHorror, Bewildering Stories, and The Shine Journal. What is it that attracts you to this particular medium?
I adore Flash because it’s what I like to read. H.P. Lovecraft flashed and so did Asimov. It’s not a new thing but I think it has come of age because of the times we live in. People like to snack.
I’m new to writing. I sit at a computer screen most days now and I realise that an awful lot of other people do too. Print magazines are great–I take a couple myself–but my next door neighbour isn’t going to buy Myslexia or Brittle Star. (That’s two more plugs. How am I doing, guys? [EDF: We're impressed!] ) She buys standard women’s magazines. But she does read my work on-line. (And can I just say thank you, Margaret and her dog Jet, for reading Resolution 500 times and for taking the photo you see here. Jet never said whether she liked the story but she knows bones don’t grow on trees.)
Another thing is, this way I get read by people all over the world. That’s exciting. I’m not locally known–and that suits my reclusive nature yet I am world famous.
(I know I’m not actually world famous but give it time–February last nobody even knew I existed–except for the cat and my hubby, bless ‘em, mostly around meal times.)
EDF: Your writing has a lyrical flavour with a strong undercurrent of emotion, all portrayed with very few words. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers on how to capture such intense emotion in such a short space?
OVJ: Nope. Sorry, not the right answer but you write what you write, you know. When Oscar Wilde wrote De Profundis, that’s exactly where it came from. I’m naturally over-emotional. I tend to hold back on it a bit in fact. (“Vulcan emotions are very powerful. You would not be able to withstand them. They would overwhelm you.”) Sad Trekkie…
Quiz: 1. Can you name the episode that that quote was taken from?
2. Who was the actor who spoke those words?
3. In that episode the piece of music that makes the ambassador cry is attributed to Mozart. This is incorrect. Who actually wrote it?
I expect the Irish lilt–actually I sound more Scottish–helps. I have an ear for language though. In Amsterdam I was congratulated on how well I spoke Dutch. I was using a phrasebook to order a meal–(maybe the waitress fancied me). The same happened in Greece–(maybe the waiter fancied me). (Who am I kiddin’?) French is my only foreign language I actually speak.
If I write with lyricism and emotion, I’m very pleased. Those are qualities I attribute to Virginia Woolf. I thank you.
EDF: Your homepage lists a lot of poetry publication credits. What do you feel are some major differences between flash and poetry?
OVJ: Narrative is the main thing. A flash has to have a story line. I am guilty of sometimes writing vignettes because I am concentrating on emotions not plot, so my characters end up doing nothing.
You can use most of the same techniques in flash as you do in poetry. You can even use internal rhyme, assonance, alliteration, repetition… The rhythm and balance of a line can alter the whole tone. The process of condensing it down for greater impact is similar and the choice of just one word can make as vast a difference in flash as in poetry.
Actually I think I’ve inadvertently answered your previous question.
Of course structure is a greater consideration in poetry, finding the appropriate form in which to present your thoughts. And I find it takes me much longer to finish writing a poem. In Twisted Tongue Issue 9, (plug) I have a poem called Image In. The first draft of that poem was written over thirty years ago. (Started it when I was 6 months old ) I keep tinkering with them.
EDF: I notice that you’re a member of WriteWords, an online writers’ community. Do you recommend such communities to other aspiring writers? How does it compare to other communities you may have experienced?
OVJ: I joined WriteWords in February last year when I decided to give writing a proper go. I’d gone through a very rough patch and my self esteem (not a strong point with me anyhow) was at record low. WriteWords–the people I met there–turned my life around. I would never have had the confidence to send work anywhere and I would never have discovered flash without them. I don’t have any experience with other communities but I can’t speak too highly of WriteWords. It is well administrated and it feels like a safe place to be.
To anyone who wants to write I’d say, look around the sites, choose one that suits you and join in. And when people rip into your work say thanks. You want to improve, don’t you?
(And can I just thank my WriteWords Buddies for reading Resolution several hundred times each )
EDF: What has been your best moment as a writer so far? Your worst?
So many… EDF was the first to publish me, you know! That was a great moment.
Every acceptance gives me a thrill.
There’s been the Micro Horror trophy which is FAB (see photo) and thank you Nathan x, an invitation to judge a poetry competition, getting into BwS Quarterly Review, my name on the cover of Twisted Tongue, this interview… I didn’t expect any of this.
But I think best of all was when one of my sisters phoned me to say how much she’d enjoyed ‘On Angel’s Wings.’ I was very touched that she did that. (Must ask her how many times she read Resolution…)
Worst? Every rejection. It goes with the territory but I’m an up and down sort of person anyway. Hey, that’s what teaches us our craft. No pain–no gain.
EDF: What is next for you as a writer?
OVJ: I have 7 chapters of an unfinished novel here. I know where it’s going–I’ve just lost track of where it’s been.:) Another reason I write flash!
I have a series of flashes I’m working on too that follow the adventures of a character called DJ. I hope that will get a publisher and an illustrator. It’s not for children but the stories are cute and why shouldn’t adults have a picture book? I’m writing it for me really. I want a picture book.
I have a few competitions I want to have a go at and there are lots of e-zines I’m not in–yet.
Seriously though, I just take it a day at a time. I may lose the muse–who knows these things? I am just glad to be where I am now and I’d like to thank you and your readers and the fabulous folk at WriteWords for helping me get there.
L:)VE YOU ALL TO BITS.
:)nah (Is that childish or what? It was rhetorical!)
EDF: Thank you for your time.