Short Story Reading – Night Swimming by Joanell Serra

Watch the July 2016 Winning Short Screenplay Reading.

Story performed by actor Julian Ford

Night Swimming  by Joanell Serra

Get to know the winning writer Joanell Serra:

1. What is your 1pg Short Story about?

Night Swimming is about a young woman who is evolving from the wild, often troubled person she has been, to someone less self absorbed and more stable. At this moment, her father appears fresh out of jail, and convinces her to go on a little “job” with him. Despite her new found desire to stay out of legal trouble, she can’t resist her father’s appeal.

2. What genres would you say this short story is in?

This is a literary fiction story, with a little action and adventure in the mix.

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Plunging in.

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

The Sound of Music. Not my favorite, but definitely the most.

5. How long have you been working on this story?

I started this story three years ago, in a writing group. I was lucky to get feedback on it from the editor at ZZZYVA , at the Squaw Community of Writers Workshop last summer. I have continued to hone it since.

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

I used to say no, but since I read Cutting for Stone, that is the clear answer for me. Nothing else has touched it.

7. What motivated you to write this story?

I have been working on a novella about the Donahues for some time, this story being an early one. Billy Donahue showed up in my mind one day, and as I developed the character, I wondered what he would do the first day he got out of jail. Steal his things back, came to me. It made sense to me that he would involve his daughter, without thinking about the consequences.

Living in Sonoma now, I love the interesting layers of community here, across cultures and socioeconomic divides. Coming out of my own interesting Irish family, the theme of trying to escape our family “traditions” has always intrigued me.

8. What artist would you love to have dinner with?

This week, I would say Ayad Akhtar. I just saw the play Invisible Hand at Marin Theater Company, and it was incredibly well written. I would love to meet this writer and talk play writing.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Serving under resourced youth, travel, immigration rights, my family, a good cup of tea, a great novel, dogs, my friends, education, theater. . . I have a pretty long list of passions.

10. What influenced you to enter the 1pg. Short Story contest?

I entered once, and while I didn’t win that time, I received quite helpful feedback from the process. I live for good feedback. I should have put that in my passions list! I am thrilled to have this one chosen. As the mother of an actor, I like seeing the intermixing of story, actors, screenplays etc. Creativity doesn’t fit in a box – this is the way to go.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Keep writing. Go to real conferences – craft ones – not the ones that tell you how impossible it is to get published. Find mentors and appreciate them. Be supportive to every writer you meet but ignore their advice if it doesn’t fit. Don’t accept limitations on your genre. Again, keep writing.

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