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Fran Friel

Website: FranFriel.com

Fran Friel writes and blogs on the coast of southern New England. Her work has been featured in the 2006 anthology Horror Library, Volume 1, and has appeared online and in print in Insidious Reflections, Wicked Karnival, The Lightning Journal, Lamoille Lamentations, The Eldritch Gazette and.

Short story collections

Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales (Apex Book Company, 2008) 

Reviewed by Carol Reid

Interview with Fran Friel

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Fran Friel: The title novella, Mama's Boy, was originally written and published in 2006 by Insidious Publications and I was very honored at that time to have received a nomination for the Bram Stoker award for Long Fiction. So technically, I guess you could say that this collection has been in the making for three years, with a few of the short pieces like Under the DryerMashedOrange and Golden, Close Shave, and Connected at the Hip appearing in other venues before the collection idea came about.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

FF: The longer fiction in particular was written with the collection in mind. A few had been in the works prior, but the book gave me a venue to stretch out a bit and write purely for the joy of it. Beach of Dreams, The Sea Orphan, and Fine Print are among those pieces. You'll also see a number of flash fiction stories previously unpublished, as well.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

FF: I know it sounds a crazy, but it was an intuitive process for me. There was little to no literary analysis in the process, just an angel on my shoulder whispering in my ear.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

FF:  Well, my immediate reaction to that question is a free-association answer: Story = Fun. I could give you an academic answer and I'm sure your fine readers know what story is from that perspective, but for me, as a writer and a reader, story is about taking a great ride, having an adventure in new places, meeting interesting people. It's the process of discovery of self, of the world, of others. And nerdball that I am, that's seriously fun.

TSR: Do you have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?

FF: I'd like to say no, but I suspect there's a subconscious reader I'm writing for, but consciously, I'm writing for me. It goes back to that last question. Writing a story is about discovery, for me, and I pursue that discovery because I find the process invigorating, fun and often, revealing. So I write for me first, and if I like what I've written, I hope there will be others who like it, too.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
collection, anything at all?

FF: Hmm...for my ego, what, if anything, brought you joy or satisfaction about the collection? How were you left feeling after each story? And for the taming of my ego and the improvement of my work, what didn't work for you and why?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

FF: Truthfully, it brings me joy. Like I said earlier, I write for me first, but ultimately, what brings me some of my greatest happiness in life is to know that other folks enjoy my work. Even after years of writing, hearing from happy readers still makes me a little giddy.

TSR: What are you working on now?

FF: Well, I've recently had the extraordinary fortune to be chosen as the first recipient of a mentorship program started by best selling author, Douglas Clegg. The program is designed to help the mentoree write and publish a novel, so that is exactly what I'm working on now. The mentoring isn't about the writing of the novel itself, but more the process and business of writing, as well as studying the craft through literature and film. In only a few weeks working with Doug, I've made huge strides in my process, as well as deepening my appreciation and understanding of the craft.
    One major tip that's changed my work (and my life) is staying off the Internet. I only allow myself email during the week, and I save my Internet browsing, message boards and networking for the weekend. It's like dessert at the end of a productive work week. If you're a web junkie or even a casual "user," give it a try for two weeks. You'll be amazed how hard it is to do, but so happy with the results.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

FF: A Separate War by Joe Haldeman (Ace), Fourtold by Michael Stone (Baysgarth), The Jack Vance Reader by Jack Vance (not short stories, but some of the best storytelling I've read in ages) (Subterranean)