Interview with Francesca Flood, author of “Wick or Fuse”

What was the inspiration for Wick or Fuse?

At the risk of sounding as though I can commune with those beyond the grave – I believe Wick or Fuse was inspired by a late night spectral visit. Whether dreaming or awake, I saw Patsy Ramsey standing at the foot of my bed asking the enigmatic question, “Would you rather be the wick or the fuse?” At the time, I had no idea what this message meant. Yet I immediately grabbed my laptop and over the course of 24 hours – had written the book. It is not based on scholarly research, but provides a glimpse into the evolving psyche of America and serves as a harbinger that we must rethink our course and that each person plays a part. There is an edginess to the book and I believe this is because there may have been one in the messenger. After the murder of her child, Jon Benet – Patsy Ramsey and her family fell under the veil of suspicion. Once the family became the focal point, the investigation for the child’s murderer stalled. Mrs. Ramsey died before her family was finally cleared.

What inspires you to write?

I’d like to think I approach the world with a blank slate and a pen. Observing the world around me and the people within it – inspires me to write. Every person has a narrative and stories have always been a part of our human culture. I like to share these narratives and experiences to continue story traditions. I enjoy provoking critical thought, stirring emotion, or providing a respite from our busy lives through entertainment.

What advice would you give your younger self?

The advice I would give to my younger self and to the upcoming generation, is to focus on your passion no matter how out of place it might seem. When you do what you love – the rest will fall in place. I would not have followed the traditional path – but instead marched to the different drum I heard.

Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

Yes, I am writing a trilogy with the first book, “The Alchemy of G.O.D.” I’d say it falls within the realm of speculative fiction – yet it is a theological mystery, perhaps answering some of the questions we ask about life, its meaning, and beyond.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

I believe the basis for all writing comes from some real experience in life. Sometimes we see things unfold one way and ask ourselves – “what if it had gone another?” Many characters within stories are amalgamations of people we encounter in our lives or mirror images of ourselves. I have incorporated not only things that have happened to me, but to others as well. I like to explore the realm of plausible fiction, by taking a known event or phenomenon and examine alternative outcomes.

Do your novels carry a message?

Yes, I think my novels carry a message – either overtly or subliminally embedded in the story line. Whether fiction or non-fiction, I hope my work carries a message that people can relate to or will at a minimum consider. From my vantage, I think writing must provoke emotions and thought.

What books have influenced your life the most?

One of the most powerful and profound books that influenced my life was Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” He was a psychiatrist who had been in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. As he watched many die – he also observed that those who had found a purpose to live, made a commitment to survive. This was a touchpoint in my life – it caused me to re-examine my views and sense of self. I recognized that in order to live a meaningful life, I must always keep a purpose in front of me.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

Yes, I have a day job and I like it very much. I am able to blend my corporate experience with my educational training in counseling to provide business and life coaching. Having had myriad business experiences – good and bad, I am able to see many things before they unfold and also understand the psychological underpinnings for why we feel compelled to pursue them. We often choose things that are not the most productive use of our time and our talent. Ultimately, we find ourselves disappointed and/or disillusioned. I am able to work with my clients to first understand why they are setting specific goals and then assist them to achieve them.

How important is research to you when writing a book?

As someone who does scholarly research, I am perhaps biased that all writing – even the most far flung, science –fiction genre requires some level of research to create a more believable premise to the story line. Even love stories require research if an author uses a town, a point in time, or a historical event as the backdrop.

What genre would your writing fall into?

When not writing non-fiction my genre is primarily speculative fiction. This is the realm of writing that places the reader in the land of possibility, plausibility, and what if scenarios.

Do you believe it is more challenging to write about beliefs that conflict with the ones you hold yourself?

Every facet of our life is seen through a lens of our world view. We all have beliefs, biases, and preconceived ideas of people, issues, and environments. I think it is very challenging to write from all points of view or even neutrality. To do so, requires a vigilant awareness of the voice you use when you write and the view point you are expressing. To express a belief that conflicts with your own belief system is like shadow boxing. Can you express those beliefs as passionately as you do your own?

Have you ever left any of your books stew for months on end or even a year?

How about several years! I’ve written quite a few books – but they were a hobby; an outlet for my creative energy, observations, and speculations. I viewed them merely as the musings of a busy person. I would write and save, write and save. Fortunately, I didn’t discard them – because all graveyards of books-to-be provide fertile ground for book that will be.

Given the chance to live your life again, what would you change about yourself?

I would want to be more scientific. Although I’ve lived quite an adventurous life, I would have chosen a scientific profession such as archeology.

Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?

I do not consider my life sufficiently extraordinary to write an autobiography. However, I do believe my life within the context of a specific culture or group worthy of examination. To this end, I plan on writing an autoethnography – that examines a specific group/culture of people and my experiences within that group.

If you die today, how would want the world to remember you?

I can’t imagine the world remembering me by any stretch. I will be fortunate if I am remembered by those I’ve loved the most. I think the most important things we can leave behind are love and kindness. These two things cause the greatest ripple effect after we are long gone.

What other genres do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy reading historical fiction and mysteries.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

In addition to my current fictional work, I am finishing a post-doctoral study on meaning in life and how to find it after it’s lost.

How big of a part does music play in creating your “zone”?

Music plays a key role in my overall life – so it is integral to my writing. There are times when I am listening to a song that will evoke a memory, a moment of sadness, or inspiration. I normally play music when I write because it tends to incite my emotions and this enables the flow of writing.

In case one or any of your books honor the big screen, which book would you like it to be?

I would like to see “The Alchemy of G.O.D.” on the big screen. I think it has an exciting storyline and also an excellent message.

Do you encourage your children to read?

When our children were young, they were encouraged to read at every opportunity. Reading provides a fertile ground to develop one’s unique imagination. The ability to read is a gift, especially in a world of illiteracy. When our children were in school, there were several classic books that were banned from their reading list. I am a big believer in the freedom to write and read. Once our children knew these were forbidden books, it made them all the more seductive to read.

Do you mentor?

I currently teach English as a second language. In a way, I feel as though I am mentoring someone by enabling them to communicate in a different world and language than their own. This is done with utmost respect for the person’s own culture – serving as an example of tolerance. The older you become the greater your responsibility to mentor – whether by direct instruction or by the examples you demonstrate through your actions. Whether proving all older people have not outlived their usefulness to the young or growing older can be accomplished with grace to those who are aging – we all serve as mentors in some fashion.

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