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Interview with Madeleine Pelletier, Winter 2021 Flash Fiction Runner Up


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Today I am excited to talk with Madeleine Pelletier, one of the runner-ups to the Winter 2021 Flash Fiction contest. Make sure you read her story Deviled Eggs then come on back and read our interview.

Madeline's bio:

Madeleine Pelletier is a writer of short, sometimes very short, fiction. After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in archaeology, she spent twenty years traveling the world, contemplating history, and collecting stories. She now lives in a farmhouse near Montreal, with six goats, three cats, and one grumpy old man. She enjoys gardening, watching birds, and making things up.

Her work has been published in several anthologies, including Endless Pictures by TL;DR Press, The Arcanist’s Tales from the Weird West, and 72-Hours of Insanity: Volume 8 presented by The Writer’s Workout. You can find her on Twitter @mad_pelletier.

-- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First congratulations on winning runner-up! I absolutely loved your flash fiction piece, "Deviled Eggs." It said so much in such a short time. What inspired this story?

Madeline: Last summer, I did a workshop on hermit crab flash fiction, and creating a recipe story was one of the prompts. We only had about 30 minutes to write and the first simple recipe I could think of was for deviled eggs because I’d made them the day before for a family party. And this story came from that. It went through a lot of revisions afterward, but I’d say 75% of the story is what I wrote in that workshop.

WOW: That's amazing! I also love the prompt too. How did this story transform in the editing process?

Madeline: Editing this story was interesting. Because I wrote it quickly and for a specific prompt, I really had no idea where the story was going when I started. I was just playing with language and rhythm and seeing what would happen. And that really showed when I finished the first draft. The feedback I got was that there were a lot of pretty lines but it lacked a cohesive story. So, I had to go back and figure out what I wanted the story to be and rewrite it from the beginning with that in mind. I had to throw out some of the pretty lines, but it is a much stronger story for it.

WOW: That's always such a tough process. What leads you to write short (and even shorter) fiction?

Madeline: I am excited by big things that come in small packages. I remember the first time I read a story that was under 500 words that just clung to me. I had to go back and read it again and again. Each time I would find something new, another layer, a deeper meaning, even though I practically knew the words by heart. There is something very powerful in being able to connect so resoundingly with such a small word count. And I think micro fiction and experimental forms are only going to get more popular in the future because of this.

WOW: I feel the same way about short fiction! A few words can pack a lot of punch. How does your love of history inspire you?

Madeline: What I really love about history is learning the details of everyday lives, especially women’s lives. In university, I wrote a paper that studied quilt patterns and fabrics from across 19th century North America that really changed how I looked at artifacts and understood women’s place in history. When I lived in Turkey, I bought carpets that had patterns and embroidery motifs stitched into them that told stories in a secret language. This is how women have always told their stories, covertly and out in the open at the same time. Those are the voices I want to hear and the people that I love to write about. “Deviled Eggs” could have taken place 50 years ago or yesterday. It’s a story that women have been living, in one form or another, throughout history.

WOW: Those details are so inspiring! What are you working on next?

Madeline: I love short stories and always have. People would ask me when I was going to write a novel and I’d just laugh and say never. Novel writing wasn’t for me. Then I wrote a short story that, honestly, was not that great a short story because the story was way too big. But, man, that story. I loved it and the protagonist so much that I couldn’t stop thinking about them, to the point where I finally decided that I had to turn that story into a novel. So, much to my surprise, that’s what I’m working on now. And, yes, it is historical fiction!

WOW: How exciting! I can't wait for it to come out and read it. Thank for your time today and congrats again! 

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