An Interview with Sherry Morris

Congratulations! You were selected as the recipient of the 2018 Haunted Waters Press Short Shorts Award for Flash Fiction! Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in a small Missouri town, but I’ve been living abroad since 2000. First in London, now in Scotland. I have a degree in teaching (Secondary English) and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine in the early 90’s. This experience led me to start writing again—my first published story was about my Peace Corps experience. It was also key in deciding to live abroad—that and meeting someone.

What was the inspiration behind Miss Bordeleux Goes to the Cinema?
It’s loosely based on a shred of truth. I was on a writing workshop where we mined memories. It’s more an image and half-remembered rumor about an authority figure. Then I Jerry Springer-ed it up and added a layer about the close-knitness (good and bad) of small towns.

What fuels your writing? Where do you typically find your ideas and inspiration?
Most of my stories come from a kernel of truth. Something I’ve heard or read sparks a ‘What if…’ Sometimes I’ll hear an interesting sentence or read a story in the newspaper that seems improbable and then imagine how it could have happened. But sometimes an idea or a connection between two different things just hits.

What is your writing day like? Is there a particular environment that stimulates your creativity? Do you have any writing routines or rituals that you practice?
I'm lucky enough to have a fantastic work-life balance. I write in the mornings for a couple of hours. This includes editing, updating my spreadsheet of submissions, prepping work to submit, etc though I try to keep the time only for writing. At the very least, I always try to have my butt in the chair from 7 am.

What is your writing kryptonite?
I’m a terrible procrastinator. And slow. I rarely free write, constantly examining and editing what I write while writing. I’m trying not to do that. Workshops like Kathy Fish’s help.

How long have you been writing? Was there a defining moment that led you down this path or a person who encouraged or helped shape you as a writer?
I wrote stories in high school and university, then had a long break, only seriously starting again about three years ago. I had a wonderful high school English teacher who encouraged me, and many kids, over decades of teaching. He's always told me I could do this. And I thought, yeah, maybe I can. The best bit is we’re still in touch and meet when I’m stateside. I held back from writing for a long time for a variety of reasons, but the urge, or as I call it ‘The Nag’ to write never left and I eventually gave in and started again. I’m very glad I did!

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?
I read Stephen King constantly in high school. Jonathan Irving's Prayer for Owen Meany is one of my favourite books. I'm a huge fan of Lorrie Moore, Miranda July and Shirley Jackson. Flash writers I admire are Ingrid Jendrzejewski and Stephanie Hutton—a previous Haunted Waters Press flash winner.

What other forms and genres do you enjoy writing?
I consider myself to be a short story writer who dabbles in flash. I keep saying I’m going to stop writing flash and focus on writing short stories, but I keep getting pulled back to flash—it’s not a bad thing, really. My writing tends to be either humorous or grim. I currently don’t have any desire to write a novel, though I think I'm supposed to? I doubt that will change. It would take me too long to write one. I won't live that long!

Of your other published works, do you have a personal favorite you would like to share with our readers? Where can we find it?
I’m quite fond of my story ‘Miracles, Mercies and Mary… on Toast' which can be found on Flash 500. It came second in the Flash 500 competition. And was shortlisted in the 2018 'To Hull and Back' short story competition.

" . . . don’t worry about the rejections. Focus on writing a story you love and finding the right fit for it."

—Sherry Morris

What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon?
In October, I helped to organize a local, spoken-word festival & worked with an actor on a monologue I’d written. I really enjoyed that & may go back to some earlier scripts I’ve written & tinker with them some more.

If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Don’t let rejections stop you. Everybody gets them. Hundreds of them. Doesn’t matter. I think of them as Simply-Not-Found-The-Right-Fit. It’s like trying to find a great pair of jeans. It takes (me) a while. But eventually, it happens. I aim for 100 rejections a year, so even when I get one, it just means I’m a step closer to my goal. I’ve nearly got my 100 and it’s only October! But I’ve also had my best writing year yet -- winning or placing in five competitions to date. So don’t worry about the rejections. Focus on writing a story you love and finding the right fit for it.


About the Author

Originally from Missouri, the US Heartland, Sherry writes flash fiction, short stories and monologues which have been published, won prizes, placed on shortlists and been performed in London and Scotland. She now lives on a farm in the Scottish Highlands with her partner where she pet cows, watches clouds, and dreams up stories.


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