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Congratulations on your win in the 2016 Penny Fiction Flash Fiction Writing Competition! Your 16-word story, “Bernice,” was the favorite among the HWP staff.  Is this your first time attempting micro-fiction?

  1. It was, or at least it was the most micro micro-fiction I've tried. Fiction this short is a unique and interesting challenge.


What other forms and genres do you enjoy writing?

  1. I have a novel in progress, and several short stories waiting for a final edit. Poetry only very occasionally.


Where do you find your ideas and inspiration?

  1. It's everywhere. Ideas aren't in short supply. Reality is so odd, and then you add dreams, an offhand comment heard out of context. Ideas often come when I'm distracted by other tasks as well.


How long have you been writing?

  1. Since I learned to write. As soon as I could put sentences together, I did. I got some praise in school, but perhaps everyone did.


What is your writing day like?

  1. I have a very erratic schedule. I'm told it's best to work regularly, but that just doesn't work for me. I prefer late nights and the wee hours. And I've got to have the right music. Every story I write has a song.


Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?

  1. I love Stephen King. I used to read his stuff at bedtime and then couldn't put my feet on the floor at night for fear of monsters under the bed. The best stories do that -- they pull you out of your reality and into their own. That's what I shoot for.


What are you reading right now?

  1. I've been flipping through the fiction magazines, trying to find the right places to send a few short stories. The novel on the bedside table is a loaner: 'Zombies'. It's a collection of short stories edited by John Skipp.


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

  1. A motto? Maybe not. But my philosophy is to try everything at least once. You will fall, you will fail, you will get hurt. But so what? Joy, ecstasy, these are  experiences we seek out, but even to suffer is so beautifully human and part of our nature.


Where can we find other works from Erin O'Shea?

  1. My last publication was in the Winter 2016 issue Quantum Fairy Tales. 'Green Girl.' I love the creepy, the odd, things that bump in the night.


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

  1. I have several projects in the works, currently under the studied eyes of a pair of much put-upon readers who offer their advice.


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

  1. Advice? Not from me. I'm floundering myself still, and I'm inclined to believe most of us are. If you love it, you'll do it for that. Publication is a bonus, and a way to share the maelstrom in your head with complete strangers. If that makes you happy, writing is for you.


Finally, any advice for writers who are thinking about entering the Penny Fiction Flash Fiction Competition?

  1. It's just a brilliant idea. 16 words. Make an entire story happen. So much has to be said with so little. Everyone should give it a shot.