Author Profile – Gary Zenker

With the upcoming launch of the anthology, Running Wild Press Anthology of Short Stories Volume 2 –  over the next few weeks I will be profiling some of the talented authors who are featured in this eclectic collection of short stories on Small Town Gal.

Last week I got in touch with Gary Zenker whose story, “Stolen Memories,”  provides a glimpse of exploring the idea of forgotten.

Author Profile – Gary Zenker

Gary Running Wild

1. Let’s get the logistics out of the way – what is your name, where are you from and what is the title of your short story in the upcoming Running Wild Press Anthology?
Gary Zenker. West Chester PA and Stolen Memories

2. What started you on the path to writing?
My best friend in high school and I used to draw cartoons for the hs newspaper. His were incredibly stylistic and clever. Mine not so much. I decided I had better try something different. So I started writing without the drawing. At Franklin & Marshall College, I staged a coup and made myself editor of the humor magazine in my sophomore year. By senior year I also a semi-regular column in the College Reporter. That led to placement in several local Pennsylvania weekly papers. As I was in marketing, I did a lot of writing for every media and left fiction behind for about 15 years. In 2009 I founded the Main line Writers Group to help others achieve their writing goals. But ironically, I didn’t actually start writing fiction again for another two years. Then it was like the dam broke and I couldn’t stop.

3. How did you come up with the title of your short story?
I like plays on words or using common phrases that take on additional meanings in different contexts or after you have read the story. Clearly after you read the story, ‘stolen’ is the right word as opposed to ‘forgotten’ or some other phrase. I won;t say why.

4. If you could give a quick log line for your story in Running Wild Press Anthology – what would it be?
The view from the inside of an Alzheimer’s sufferer.

5. What has been one of the most rewarding experiences of your writing career? One of the biggest challenges?
The most rewarding experience has been founding and facilitating two writers groups, now in their ninth and sixth years respectively. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to give people a safe home to develop their skills, help them achieve their publishing goals and make new friends and The biggest challenge is the rejection in publishing. Even well written, well told stories get rejected.

6. If someone was new to your work, what work should they start with? Why? OR Do you have a preferred medium or genre that you like to write in? Short Story, blogs, flash fiction, novel writing, freelance writing? Is your writing comedic, dramatic, thriller etc.
Currently, I write almost entirely flash fiction of 1000 words or less. I enjoy the challenge of fitting a story and characterization in the space that some other people are just describing the environment. That of course isn’t a genre, but a format. I like to challenge myself to write different genre, or cross over genre in the space of flash fiction. So I’ve done noir, suspense, memoir (and stories about my son), romance, romantic comedy, all in flash fiction format.

7. What are you reading right now?
I read biographies here and there. I listen to podcasts of various types. I sometimes read comic books and graphic novels. I recently read novels that my writers group members have published: 8th Circle by Sarah Cain and Grave Matters by Todd Harra.

8. What is your writing process – are you a pantser or a plotter?
Even in flash, I prefer to be a plotter. I like to know where I have to get to in the story. But sometimes, some stories need to develop on their own. So I guess a smattering of pantser as well.

9. What has been most successful for you in marketing your work? Are you doing anything different for 2018 that you haven’t done before?
I really haven’t done a lot of marketing. I am getting braver with my submissions. I hate rejection, even when I know my pieces are good.

10. What are you working on next and what is the best way for people to connect with you?
2018 I hope to launch a new podcast – 999 Words or Less. I invite flash fiction writers to read their stories and then have conversations about that piece or writing in general.
I am also going to be working on a novel that started out as a flash fiction piece. That will be way out of my comfort zone.

I’ll also be marketing my writers game called WritersBloxx. Very fun way to engage both writers and non-writers in storytelling. Contact me through email at garyzenker@gmail.com.

Author Bio: By day, Gary Zenker is a marketing strategist, writing all sorts of business copy. By night, he writes flash fiction in various genre and runs two writers groups he founded: The Main Line Writers Group and the Wilmington-Chadds Ford Writers Group. He has published over 25 books including two co-authored with his young son Seth and one on running successful Meetup groups.

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