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Interview with Oonah V Joslin

OonahWe noted with great pleasure that January’s most-read story was “Resolution“, by Oonah V Joslin. The story was  published on December 31st, but was well-read throughout the month of January.

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?”
“Eclectic.”

See?:)

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?

OVJ: Well first let me plug Static Movement, Twisted Tongue, 13 Human Souls, the Ranfurly Review and Lit Bits too”¦NOW

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.

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Posted on February 15, 2008 in Author Interviews
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  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/sarah_hilary Sarah Hilary

    Great interview, everyone! Fantastic answers, Oonah. Candid, honest and entertaining. Like your flashes!

    Long may you continue writing, flashing and making us all laugh, cry and sigh.

    Sarah

  • http://www.microhorror.com Nathan

    Fantastic interview, Oonah. Congratulations on landing it. I’d like to link to it from your MH author bio, if you don’t mind? (And I have to say I’m very flattered that you chose my trophy to pose with. :) )

    (Incidentally, the episode was “Sarek,” in the third season of TNG; I’m pretty certain the line is spoken by the late Mark Lenard; and not only is Brahms’s sextet misattributed to Mozart, but it’s performed by only four people. I suppose classical music scholarship has gone down the tubes by the 24th century.)

  • Kristina

    Yep, that’s our Oons, Eclectic! And we wouldn’t have you any other way.

    Quiz answers: Sarek was the Name of the episode – classic STTNG episode! Mark Lenard is the actor who plays Sarek and it was a Brahms piece but I can;t remember for the life of me what its called!

    Oh dear proving one of the many things that brought us together as friends in the first place, our love of Queen and Star Trek!

    Fabulous interview hun

    love ya

    xxxxx

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Thank you Sarah. I’d start preparing your answers in advance if I were you. :)

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Nathan, I’d be happy for you to add this to my bio. Great idea. I thought you would know the answers to that Quiz. I love that piece by Brahms. Sextet in B flat major Op.18 and it is played allegro and is really quite adorable. You get a chocolate Sundae with REAL chocolate and REAL cream – not the usual nutritionally balanced replicated type :)

    Thank you for reading.

    That was Nathan from MicroHorror folks. Send him something horrible! Go on. You know you want to. :)

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Krissy, thanks darling. I used to be Krissy’s Form Teacher but somehow we became friends. Queen and Star Trek, yes and mutual interests like Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. And as you can tell from her comment I really AM mad a s a hatter – not just pretending. :)

    Nice of you to drop by Kris. XXX

  • http://www.writewords.org.uk/bill_west/ Bill West

    Great interview Oonah.

    “Live long and prosper”

    Ok, I didn’t know the answer to the quiz :¬P

  • http://nikperring.blogspot.com/ Nik Perring

    Great interview, EDF and Oonah.

    Keep up the great work.

    Nik

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Thank you Bill. Wonderful flash! Not knowing the answers to that quiz is probably a cause for considerable pride perhaps with the exception of the Brahms.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Nik, thank you reading.

  • http://www.MadelineMora-Summonte.com Madeline Mora-Summonte

    Really enjoyed this interview. Oonah, I have no doubt you’ll be “world famous” sooner than you think! :)

    Long live EDF!

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    Good interview Oonah – very you. I thought you were in the room with me! Keep flashing – we’ll miss you if you don’t – flash that is!!

    :) :)

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Madeline, Thank you for reading and for your good wishes. Aprreciated.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    I’ll keep at it Avis. It’s an addiction I think. Yes it’s me alright – the authentic voice.
    Altogether now…
    “We’ll meet again, don’t know where….”

    :) :) :) :) :)

  • Tina Cole

    Hi OOnah

    Great stuff – long may it continue
    Well done
    Tina

    smile!!!!

  • mark dalligan

    Great interview,

    inspiring and a joy to read. Keep it up.

    Cheers

    Mark

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Thank you. ‘a joy to read.’ I suppose that is what I always aim for, Mark. And I think it is what readers of short fiction want. Very pertinent comment.

    Well here in England it is midnight and I am signing off.

    Thankyou to EDF for this brilliant day.

    Live long and prosper.

  • Caroline

    Excellent Oonah.

    What a wonderful interview.

    Keep on flashing.

    Caroline.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Many thanks Caroline :)

  • GMoney

    Good interview. Inspires me to write as much as I can and get my work out to many more places. I’ll check out the sites mentioned in the plugs, too.
    Look forward to more flash from you!

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Thank You GMoney, I’m glad I’ve spurred you on and thank you for reading.

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