Note: This interview was done before publication of Agenda 21 became a reality.
Harriet Parke is a registered nurse who specialized in emergency nursing and Emergency Department management. She has been published in My Dad is my Hero anthology, six Voices from the Attic anthologies (published by Carlow University, Pittsburgh, Pa.), the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and Pittsburgh Magazine. She has received an honorable mention from an Atlantic Monthly student short fiction writing contest. She is a member of a The Madwomen, a Carlow University writing group, and a member of Pennwriters. Her first novel, Agenda 21, is complete and she is seeking representation for it. She lives in beautiful Western Pennsylvania with her husband. A wild peacock roosts on her deck anytime he chooses.
Find her online at: http://www.harrietparke.blogspot.com/
WOW: Congratulations on placing as one of the Runners Up in our Fall 2012 competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?
Harriet: I have always appreciated the quality of the submissions that appear as winners and honorable mentions in your competitions. The critiques you make available to contestants are amazing. Feedback on my writing is so very valuable to me.
WOW: Thanks for the kind words about the contest and the critiques! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Daddy’s List?”
Harriet: I was thinking of the Ten Commandments and how we, as humans, often break one commandment or another, how we are almost childlike in that respect. So I wrote “Daddy’s List” as an allegory and put a child in the “garden” and wrote how, in all innocence, she strayed away from the list and came face to face with the serpent.
WOW:As a registered nurse who specialized in emergency nursing and Emergency Department management, you must have seen and heard a lot. Have any of these experiences made it into your writing?
Harriet: I have great respect for patient privacy so I do not write about actual events. I do use what I learned about human behavior when building my characters.
WOW: You’ve completed your first novel, a big project for sure. What has your novel writing journey been like?
Harriet: I had the support of my writing group, Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. I submitted to them what I thought was a stand alone short story but they strongly encouraged me to keep going. From the beginning to the final finished version, I had inspiration and support from that group and many others. Writing is a long, solitary process but editing and revision is best done with support from other writers and readers.
WOW: We hear from many writers how important a good writing group can be. What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?
Harriet: Flash fiction forces an economy of words so that no matter how large a subject. . .for example, the Ten Commandments. . .every word has to carry the narrative in a concise and critical way.
WOW: I bet those skills have helped with your novel writing. Thanks so much for chatting with us today Harriet! Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?
Harriet: Enter! Subscribe for the critique! Allow your writing to be read by knowledgeable people in the literary world and learn from their comments. Then write some more and enter again!
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