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Congratulations on your win in the 2016 Haunted Waters Press Fiction & Poetry Open! Your short story “The Summer Before Lucky Strike Green Went to War” was easily the favorite among the HWP staff. Skillfully written and beautifully narrated, this coming-of-age story in which a young boy defies family boundaries while forming a bond with his estranged grandfather took us back to our youth and days of wonder. We laughed. We cried. We fell in love. You truly are a master storyteller. Can you share with us your experience in writing this story and how it evolved?

  1. The story was triggered from seeing someone pull a cigarette from a package of Lucky Strike's. I remembered that when I was a kid the packs were green, not white like today. Then, during the war, the company advertised "Lucky Strike Green has Gone to War!"  My grandfather smoked Luckies and, as I mention in the story, among my first temptations was stealing a pack from his desk. I wanted to capture those vivid memories and make them real again.

What other forms and genres do you enjoy writing?

  1. When I was teaching, I published several textbooks based on materials I developed for my classes. I enjoyed writing articles and reviews for various journals, but I've always dabbled in short fiction over the years. 

Where do you find your ideas and inspiration?

  1. Ideas for stories are everywhere. For me, they can come from reading something that aims me in a particular direction of thought or memory, or a conversation with someone who experienced what I have, or a scene on a street corner, or even from vapors in the air. The trick is finding the right words to express the ideas.

How long have you been writing?

  1. My interest in writing started in college. I had an excellent English teacher my freshman year who encouraged me. I've been working on writing of some kind ever since.

What is your writing day like?

  1. I'm not one who writes everyday. I'm certain I'd be a better writer if I did. When I get an idea for a story, I need to think about it for a time. When I think I'm ready and have found a way to begin, I sit and write, often without stopping until I have a good draft. I usually have several drafts of stories waiting in my computer and I'll work back and forth revising one, then another until I feel I can do no more with it.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?

  1. Probably every author I've ever read has rubbed off on me in some way. I'm an admirer of short story writers like Alice Munro, George Saunders, Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O'Connor, and Raymond Carver.

What are you reading right now?

  1. I'm just finishing Tove Jansson's "The True Deceiver" and about to start David Stacton's "The Judges of the Secret Court."

What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?

  1. If I have a motto, it's probably "Find the right word!"

Where can we find other works from W. Royce Adams?

  1. You might find some of my textbooks at various college bookstores, but I'm sure your readers are beyond their need.

  2. Based on my youngest daughter's request to write something she could read, I tried my hand at some juvenile fiction, "The Computer's Nerd," "Me & Jay," and "Jay." 

What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon?

  1. Needless to say, winning The Grand Prize is a tremendous boost to the ego. I have several stories I'm working on and hope a few of them might find their way into print somewhere someday.

If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?

  1. Recently I saw a documentary film about the great jazz trumpet player Clark Terry mentoring a young blind pianist trying to make it in the Jazz world. His advice fits aspiring writers as well:  "Keep on keepin' on."

W. Royce Adams, a retired college English professor, has published over a dozen college textbooks, several journal articles and juvenile novels. His writings have appeared in Green's Magazine, The Rockford Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and others. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.


Direct from the pages of the literary journal, From the Depths, Penny Dreadful's select works of exceptionally small flash fiction are now showcased within the HWP Penny Poster Collection.

Featured in this round of Penny Fiction: Nick Almeida, Richard Chetwynd, Sarah Vernetti, M. E. Wilding, K.L. Cobb, Lee DeAmali, Craig Gist, Jason R. Furtak, Lisa Reily, Janet Stevenson, Bill Teitelbaum, Jennifer Ruth Jackson, Debra Hurst, V.C. McCabe, Adam Barron, Swati Mahapatra, Bryce Worrell, Elane Johnson, Kizzi Roberts, Karen Lettice, Heather MacDonald, Erin O'Shea, J.D. Bretton, Joe Bogle, Brian Beatty, Marie H. Mittmann, and Matthew Vasiliauskas

Penny Fiction

Flash Fiction Writing Competition 2016: