By: Soraya Carvajal B.
Looking to introduce the writer of This is how you failed to ghost him, a viral flash fiction, published in 2017, selected for a session of the Short story club I organize in the Beyond community, I contacted Victoria McCurdy, the author of the narrative.
From the outset McCurdy was willing to answer my questions and expand the information about herself and her writing. This is the result of our online exhange.
1. Would you please share some of your biographical data?
V.M. I was born in Ithaca, NY but have lived in St Paul, MN for many years. Graduated with a degree in Anthropology from Macalester college, took many classes but did not complete my MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University. I teach Pilates.
2. What does writing mean to you?
V.M. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I love getting into the flow, the dreamstate I fall into when I am successfully writing fiction. But many of my writing hours have been a struggle, and I don’t feel like I am producing anything of value, but it is practice. I wrote «This is How You Fail to Ghost Him,» in 2 days, in that dreamstate, for a class assignment. I canceled work appointments and just wrote. Unlike other stories, I did not edit or have writer friends help me edit. It was kind of a gift.
3. What inspired you to write this flash fiction?
V.M . I was inspired by both my former online dating years after a divorce, and my daughter’s struggles dating on Tinder and Bumble which seemed even more brutal. And because I wanted her to feel hopeful. I’m writing this with her new born asleep in his carrier against my chest, so it worked : )
4. Short stories authors often say they are very selective about the language they use. Why did you decide to write the story in an imperative form and as an instruction manual?
V.M. Second person imperative bosses the reader around a bit, is a way to use humor to illuminate pain or vulnerability. I think it works well with flash fiction, it would be hard to sustain/tolerate in a longer piece. When I put pen to paper it was in this point of view.
5. How did you manage to contain and convey so many emotions in a short piece?
V.M. I really don’t know how I conveyed so many emotions in one piece, thank you! I have been writing for some time, and have an ear for the music of language. What you don’t need, what can be cut out.
6. The narration leads us to think that the main character has already been through a lot and is skeptical about what this kind of dating implies. Yet she keeps on trying, why?
V.M. I think she keeps trying because underneath her jaded view of dating apps she embodies her love language, the image from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the red rose slowly losing petals under glass. She still has hope for connection with a romantic partner.
I think the red rose under glass implies an urgency. I am not sure that the majority of Millennials feel the pressure to pair up and marry by a certain age, as we Boomers did, but I plumbed my own experience, my own sadness over being uncoupled as a single mother, a desire for a partner, and I think I put that into this character.
7. Why did you decide to write an open, but hopeful ending?
V.M. As I mentioned I empathized with my daughter’s experience online dating and I wrote the hope into it thinking of her. She met her husband IRL (in real life : )
8. What does it mean to you that your flash fiction has gone viral and has been so well received, especially among young audiences?
V.M. It never ceases to amaze me that this story, which was published in 2017, became so popular. Thanks to the fiction editor James Tate Hill at Monkeybicycle for accepting it 12 hours after I submitted it through Submittable, (I thought he was joking at first : ) I believe a viral story is a once in a lifetime happening for me.
9. What is your opinion about dating apps?
V.M. Dating apps are wonderful and horrible. I would not have met my partner without them. But dating apps can obliterate kindness, play havoc with the self esteem of really wonderful people. But you can tell a lot of hilarious & horrible stories about your experiences.