Kathryn Holzman our grand prize winner ‘’talks’’ via e-mail about the contest, her writing career and plans for the future and of course about her holidays in Greece- postponed due to the circumstances- for next summer.
How does it feel to be the winner of our 10th international short story contest?
I am thrilled. This is such an honor.
Have you ever imagined that you could be the winner of a writing contest in a country far far away?
Never. I have always considered the act of writing its own reward, but this is more exciting than I had imagined. I love the idea of sharing my story with people in another country, especially one with the history and distinction of Greece.
I think it was your first time to submit a story here. How did you hear about the contest?
I read about the contest in the weekly Duotrope list of calls for submission. When I saw the theme (Numbers), I thought: I have a story about that.
When did you start writing?
I always aspired to be a writer. If you asked me as a young girl what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always “an author.” When I moved to New York City in my twenties, I wrote poetry. In fact, I met my husband at a poetry reading he ran in Manhattan. Unfortunately, for many years, my career and family eclipsed my writing, though it always remained high on my “to-do” list.
I can see from your bio that apart from a very interesting life so far you haveseen your work published very recently. Can you tell us a fewmore things about your two books, the story collection and thenovel?
My chapbook of short stories, FLATLANDERs, is a collection of tales about life in rural Vermont where I spend much of my time. Second-home owners and homesteaders coexist in Vermont under a fragile truce. Whether sharing a blackberry patch with a bear or dropping off garbage at the local transfer stations, life in Vermont unites its residents in surprising ways.
REAL ESTATE, which is being published in the Fall by Propertius Press, is my first novel. It was inspired by my childhood in California’s Santa Clara Valley,which transformed in a very short period from an agricultural valley filled with apricot orchards to what is now known as Silicon Valley. I follow two neighbors from very different backgrounds, through this transition.
You wrote a brilliant story. What was the inspiration for ‘The Long Lost Bottom’?
As a financial manager for physicians, I spent much of my career crunching numbers, to the detriment of my creativity. While reading Thoreau in my classic book club, I was intrigued by his comments on measuring the depth of Walden Pond. From there, things just got out of hand. I love when writing takes off on its own and I follow my protagonist’s lead.
There is a very special atmosphere in your story which has a lot to do with gambling. I can say that you are describing these characters so vivid that I imagined that you spent a lot of time watchingpeople gambling. Is that so?
While I do have friends whose childhoods were shaped by parents who gambled, I think my personal experience, both personally and professionally, is more with obsession. I worked for a time with public inebriates and saw how obsession can hijack a person’s life.
What are your plans as a writer for the future?
Now that I have the opportunity, I intend writing to be my lens. I participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) each November and have several historical novels in the works. I have a great writing group that encourages me to continue writing my short stories.
Have you ever been in Greece before?
Never, the closest I have been is Spain. But my favorite cookbook is Food of Crete. It is well thumbed and stained by olive oil.
Are you already dreaming of your holidays in Crete next year?
In this year of the pandemic, I can’t imagine anything I would rather dream about.
Raised in Seattle and the Santa Clara Valley of California, Kathryn Holzman left the west coast of the US seeking adventure in the Big Apple where she met her husband at a poetry reading. After attending Stanford University and NYU, she chose Health Care Administration as a career, working with public inebriates, dentists, urologists, and cardiologists. When the right side of her brain rebelled against endless databases and balance sheets, she moved to New England with her husband, now a digital artist. Both flourish in the lush beauty of Vermont and the creative communities of Western Massachusetts. Her short fiction has appeared in over twenty online literary magazines and print anthologies. She is the author of a collection of short fiction, FLATLANDERS, Shire Press 2019. Her first novel REAL ESTATE is being published by Propertius Press in Fall, 2020. Links to her work can be found at kathrynholzman.com.
‘The Long Lost Bottom’will be published in two different collections of the stories of 10th international story contest, An English speaking version that will be released (as it happens every year) with the shortlisted stories (international section) of the contest, by Strange Days Books in October 2020. Prize winning stories of the international section will be translated in Greek and published in another book with the shortlisted stories of the Greek section.