23 May Fran Metzman—The Interview
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Fran Metzman, author of The Hungry Heart Stories. It is a short story collection that deals with the universal search to fill a void.
I found them to be funny, deep, quirky, surprising and enlightening.
In one story, a grieving husband in the darkly funny Right Seasoning conjures up his deceased wife’s presence in the beloved kitchen they once shared.
From My Inheritance Fran spins a tale of a grown daughter, trying to find the love and peace she has always craved with her dying mother to Getting Closer, the story of a woman left with the violent legacy of food that defined her life – we find the characters reaching the low points and triumphs of human emotions.
Especially poignant is the story, The Reunion, about a woman born into poverty who reaches the pinnacle of success but with questionable sacrifice.
Each of the twelve stories and one essay incorporates food as a means to some end or fulfillment. In Metzman’s sure hand we get these fully realized worlds, leavened with passion and sprinkled with humor.
Now, will you please welcome Fran Metzman …
How do you create your characters? What is your process?
Fran: A certain type of character will come to mind, and begin to haunt me. I wonder what this person might do in various difficult situations. I might even write a resume about them – where born, family composition, level of education, good qualities, flaws, how they view life, career, and so on. And then I have a character in search of a plot. Even if there is a particular character in real life that inspired the story, it must be fictionalized to make it larger than life with big complications. That character has to inhabit the setting where I place them in a natural way. And we must have a beginning, middle and an end, no matter that there is a trend toward plotless stories. Given that, if you examine the good plotless stories you will find a connected arc.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Fran: I’m not a great detail person. For me, the repetitive editing down to the very core of the story is always difficult. I love, love getting the story out, setting up the spine and tying it all together at the end. The edits can be endless without really knowing when it is finished. For that reason I don’t read any of my pieces once it is published because I see where I can edit it further. That is really frustrating.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Fran: I don’t think so. At least I never deliberately start with the notion I want to write in a certain way. I write in my own voice whatever that might be. What I strive for is having the story resonate with me. I am so happy when that happens for it is a good way to extract insights that my characters express. That is what I aim for – putting my characters in real life situations, watch them sweat it out and develop insights to resolve their issues. That helps me function better in my everyday life. My characters teach me coping skills and how to achieve resolution.
Which comes first, the character’s story or the idea for the story?
Fran: Usually I get a vague idea for a plot and then I think about what type of characters would inhabit that world. The concept that is taking the story along needs a specific setting which is compatible with the protagonist’s resume. I have to invent the right atmosphere that will put the reader right into the story. The plot has to have inventive obstacles that keep the protagonist from achieving what it is they want or need. Then I devise how would they behave if they came up against those difficult events.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Fran: I work best early in the day. I always break for lunch and I try to work up until about 3 or 4 p.m. Then I start winding down. I might stop for the day by taking a walk or run errands. If I get a second wind I’ll go to work again work till maybe 6 p.m. I try to write every day but that is nearly impossible these days. The time spent online has quadrupled in the last few years. Then life seems so much more complicated with the stresses of daily living. And it is tax season coming up. Oh, dear!
What are you working on now?
Fran: I have completed a manuscript. The category is difficult to pinpoint – up-to-date cozy mystery, women’s mystery, suspense – can’t say. It concerns 3 women in their 60’s and the 30 something daughter of the protagonist who all fall prey to series of murders and fraud. It’s kind of Sex in the City meets The Golden Girls, but with a mystery element and a surprise ending. It does address the kind of greed that has gripped our society.
To purchase your own copy of the book, see the links below:
THE HUNGRY HEART STORIES
Wilderness House Press
ISBN 978 0 9827115 5 2
Don’t forget to stop by Becca Butcher’s Blog tomorrow, it’s the next step on the Blog Tour. Here’s the link: Becca Butcher’s Blog