Join us as we peek behind the scenes of our new anthology, ON TIME. Learn more about Monica Wenzel in her featured interview.
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
Two things inspired my story. I wanted to write a story with “alien aliens” as we say in my book club. Aliens who don’t look like us and might make us uncomfortable if we ever meet, but who we share a connection with. Also, I’m intrigued by the proverb about how society grows when old people plant trees whose shade they know they’ll never sit in. I wondered how future generations could improve their society knowing it’ll take years for those benefits.
Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
Leo is coming to the end of his career as an ambassador. He’s had some great moments in that career, but this is the moment that’s going to secure his legacy and help Earth for generations to come. He’s eager to make the deal he’s negotiating work for both of those reasons. He understands what it means to everyone, not just him.
What is the most interesting thing about the world you’ve created?
I speak Spanish and French, so the most interesting part was the translations between my two main characters. I’d be interested in such technology and how machines translate accurately. I really wonder how the languages sound to the characters.
What genre or mix of genres does your story fit into?
Sci-Fi, which is a slight departure from my normal genres of Fantasy, or short novels in Spanish and French (that I hope to publish soon!)
How have your personal experiences influenced this story?
I, unfortunately, haven’t ever seen or spoken to an alien. But I have done a fair bit of negation as both a high school teacher and as a parent of a preschooler.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
I’d like them to think about how we need to work together for the good of all of us to face and fix our world’s problems. We can’t to it alone, but we can do it if we’re willing to cooperate.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
I really liked creating the alien diplomat and making that character strange yet familiar. I purposely left the senator vague because Leo’s not sure the senator, either.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When did you write your first story, how old were you, and what was it about?
I started creating stories before I could actually write them down. My parents have stories in my mother’s handwriting. I made up a story about my old family cat, Chip, who escaped into the garage and got into the car. He didn’t drive the car away. Instead, he stuck the keys (that were still in the car for some reason) into his ears. Lots of my early stories revolved around cats, particularly Chip.
What is your writing survival checklist? (Aka, what helps your write the best: music, snacks, coffee, complete silence, a stress ball, a cat, or an outline, etc.)
Coffee is a must because I often write early in the morning before work and while I’m the only one up. I often outline my stories, even short stories. I’m a teacher, and we plan, so I need my plan for my story. My cat Persia (who’s currently on my lap) likes to think she’s essential to my writing.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
My mother wrote a non-fiction children’s book about explorer Ann Bancroft when I was young. It made me wonder if I could be published one day, too. I’ve also always loved books and stories, as I suspect many writers do. What’s better than writing my own and seeing my imagination take shape on the page?
What font do you prefer to write in?
It’s basic, but I prefer Times New Roman. Simple, easy, and widely accepted for submissions.
Do you have any writing blogs/vlogs/podcasts, etc. that you would recommend?
I’m a fan of Writing Excuses because it’s full of good advice and episodes are only about 20 minutes or under.
What is your favorite and least favorite word, and why?
In French, I’ve always been a fan of “zut!” (darn) for when something goes wrong. In Spanish, I like murciélago (bat, as in the animal), because it has all 5 vowels. When I lived in Ecuador, I learned a few words in Ecuadorian Spanish that I liked: guagua (baby, pronounced wawa), mishi (cat) and chuta (darn, there’s something about me and that word I guess)
How do I balance my professional life as a teacher (which is honestly more than a full-time job) and my home life with my husband and preschool son, and still find time to write?
I’ll let you know the secret to balance if I ever find it.
Monica lives with her husband, preschool-aged son, and needy cat in Minnesota. She teaches high school Spanish. She’s also learned and taught French. Her first adult job was teaching English in rural Ecuador for a year. Besides Ecuador, she’s traveled to China, France, Spain, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, England, and many corners of the United States. The first book she remembers loving was Matilda by Roald Dahl. She keeps her love of books going with the help of her local geeky bookclub. It’s an actual bookclub and not a wine club disguised as a bookclub. She’s been previously published in Every Day Fiction, 101 Words, and Enchanted Conversation. She’s also won the Geek Partnership Society writing contest, and received honorable mention in The Preservation Foundation nonfiction essay contest. This is her first publication in print, which makes her extra excited about it.