Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interview with Author of The Hungry Heart Stories

Dear Readers,
Today’s blog will be about a book of short stories called The Hungry Heart Stories by Fran Metzman, and as a special treat I’ll also share the interview I did with her.
Let’s start with the book, first. The Hungry Heart is a delightful collection of short stories dealing with the universal search to fill a void. This author serves up a plate of quirky and disparate characters in her captivating tales. A grieving husband in the darkly funny, Right Seasoning, conjures up his deceased wife’s presence in the beloved kitchen they once shared. From My Inheritance, which tells the story of a grown daughter’s attempts to find the love and peace she has always craved with her dying mother to, Getting Closer, the story of a woman left with the violent legacy of food that defined her life. With these stories we find the characters reaching the low points and triumphs of human emotions. Particularly poignant is the story about a woman born into poverty who reaches the pinnacle of success, but with questionable sacrifice. Each of the twelve stories and one essay incorporates food as a means to some end or fulfillment, and presents fully realized worlds, leavened with passion and sprinkled with humor.
Fran Metzman’s book The Hungry Heart is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
And now, with great pleasure, please allow me to introduce Fran Metzman.
Thank you for this chance to learn more about you and the book. I’ll start with my first question.

What inspires you to write?

I'm inspired to write because I want to make sense of the chaos I find in the world. What makes people behave the way they do? I have always been fascinated with the motivation behind behavior -- especially with actions that go to the edge. Writing, for me, is also a way to heal old wounds -- sometimes present ones. Most often I do it with fiction which helps me distance myself if I'm extracting a tad from real events or from a trauma I've experienced. I can take a nugget of reality and fictionalize it. Some of these tidbits from the real world can instigate an entire story and it can come from someone else's experiences as well. To be a fiction writer one has to listen carefully to the undercurrents of what people say. It is just as important to observe the behavior as well as listening to the words. It is hard for a person to be objective about one's own inner world. I happen to think that is how most writers invent stories even if they say they are totally disconnected from the story.

          What are some of your favorite authors and books?

Favorite authors and books - here's just a smattering of novels: All of Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, I'll Take You There, Jonathan Franzen, Freedom, Anne Tyler, Saint Maybe, Alice Hoffman, The Ice Queen, Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres, and books on that order. I love literary works as well as high quality commercial. I look for psychological drama as well as insights about life. I want to know how the protagonist got through hurdles and obstacles to remain standing tall at the end. What did they learn about themselves that could help me in my life?

     From your essay, I know some of the stories from The Hungry Heart are from personal experiences in your life. Could you tell my readers a little more about this?

As for using personal experiences from real life: I said before, there are nuggets of reality that are then totally fictionalized. This helps lessen the ache of a painful piece of memory. In the end, what I write is totally fiction. It doesn't even have to be from my bank of experiences. It could have happened to a friend or acquaintance or even a total stranger. But it has to be something that resonates with me. For instance, one of the stories is about a woman who lived in an attic, spying on her ex-husband and his new wife who was the cause of the divorce. I never lived in an attic nor was divorced. The story emanated from a friend who had been stalked in a unique way by her ex-boyfriend. I found it so fascinating that it inspired an entire story -- of course with many, many edits.

     I love how food is somehow knitted into each tale. I love the idea. What made you go this route?

Having food intersect life is something that I experienced. My mother was a truly fabulous cook, but not eating every morsel could incite her to anger or bring her to tears. I had to eat everything on my plate. Once I sat for hours because I didn't want to eat something she cooked. Dieting in my house was a no-no big time. That was the nugget that developed into a story, Getting Closer. Of course, none of the actions in the story happened in real life. But that is how a seed of a story might be born and raised and become a fiction.

Is there any advice you would like to share on how to get published? What worked for you?

The advice I'd give to emerging writers is work on fictional structure. It is vital you have a working knowledge of how fiction is made seamless when read. Read how-to books, take workshops and then write until you drop. After you have that under your belt you can experiment all you want. My impression is that it is 30% talent and 70% work. Once the work is created than you must edit endlessly. It's in the editing that the story takes on a life of its own. All the while, observe, listen to conversations, watch body language and the way people look and talk. Rent or go to movies, and theater (dramas in particular). Listen to the dialogue and the interaction between people.

I’m hoping to get my trilogy published so I do appreciate your advice.

Getting published is difficult. I suggest a new author learn the short story form for within that realm you must make every word count. Then, once you feel you have learned that form adequately and have gone over and over the story with a fine tooth comb send it out to journals that are interested in your genre. For instance, if you write mystery, sci-fi, literary, psychological, commercial, romance or any other genre, make sure you send your work to a journal that is seeking your style. Don't get too uptight about rejections. It's part of the process, so keep sending and writing. Write as much as you possibly can for that keeps up a level of creativity. When I don't write for a period of time I find it hard to get back. Block out the time whether it's every day, 3 times a week or even once a week. Keep up a pattern and make it as often as possible. It also keeps the connections to your unconscious open.
Thank you Fran for sharing your time with my readers and you’ll be able to count me in as one of your devoted fans.

Readers, please feel free to visit Fran’s site at

And please visit Friday's blog and interview at: The Author-in-training by Mieke Zamora-Mackay at:

Here are some of the books reviews:
Fran Metzman's short stories are a feast, dig in and devour them quickly. Story after story, they will tease your palate, fill you with emotion, and keep you longing for more. Each character comes alive. This is a beautifully written book. -- Gloria Mindock, Cervena Barva Press

In Fran Metzman’s collection THE HUNGRY HEART we meet mothers and daughters, lovers, career women, wives and husbands, and feel that we know them all. 
-- Joy E. Stocke, founder & editor-in-chief of Wild River Review and author of a memoir, Anatolian Days & Nights

"THE HUNGRY HEART" is an apt and striking title because it reveals what centers this short story collection - the need for the heart to find sustenance and the gathering at a meal, which is so often the intersection of our lives. Metzman is a deft storyteller who gets into her characters to reveal them and tell us something about the world we live in. -- Peter Krok, author of Looking for an Eye
Wilderness House Press
Available Amazon, B&N and all fine bookstores
Barnes & Nobel:
Wilderness House Press:
The Hungry Heart Stories
Wilderness House Press
ISBN 978 0 9827115 52

1 comment:

  1. Terrific interview, Marie, great questions and, Fran, great answers! Thank you both!