Feature Interview with Author and Actress Lauren Dennis
by Christine Nessler
July 25, 2023
As both an actress and a writer, Lauren Dennis has a contrasting approach to creating a human connection, but as you’ll find in her micro fiction pieces of Two Micro Stories for Issue #11 of The Good Life Review, she has a talent for engaging the emotions of her audience.
“I am so happy I have both of these vehicles,” Dennis said. “One that I think connects to the human experience where I am building a bridge between myself and another character and another that hopefully connects directly from my internal experience to an unseen audience. I see them as the inverse to each other.”
From the time she was young, Dennis had an interest in both writing and acting. The passion of acting led her to New York where she studied at NYU. Expressing herself as an actress was overt, but her writing was done in secret.
“I was an ‘under-the-bed’ writer. Just writing and writing and writing and literally putting things under my bed,” Dennis said. “I got out of that habit about five years ago and started formalizing and taking classes. That is really much more useful for yourself and the world than just tucking your writing away.”
During these classes, she discovered micro fiction, a form of storytelling that limits word count to just 50 to 300 words. She appreciated the style of writing because although concise and even terse, it can also be very emotional.
“Packing a lot of emotional punch within very few words is something I am really proud about,” Dennis said. “I have to get the reader’s buy-in quickly and then have them follow me on this journey that is very fast, but also hopefully gives some sort of experience of something changing or shifting.”
Although Dennis said she hated her class on self-scripting at NYU, she now finds writing her own story writing as a tool for reflection and emotional healing.
“Your Dulcimer’s Too Loud” and “Baggage” are included in Two Micro Stories, which are a part of a larger manuscript Dennis is working on that follows the inciting incident of what she calls a cataclysmic divorce.
“If the divorce is the inciting incident, how do I reveal these things in little bits and pieces that are really the emotional healing journey as opposed to the actual events that happened?” reflected Dennis. In her manuscript, Dennis examines how a person goes from broken to whole, maybe not realizing that they were broken in the first place.
After having a bit of distance from the actual incident of her ex husband coming over to borrow luggage for a trip to Mexico, Dennis was able to examine the situation with a bit of creative license in “Baggage.”
The story reflects what she was feeling in that environment and frames the way she took in that experience. It was the literal baggage of her ex needing suitcases, but also the emotional baggage and its weight that makes her story resonate. As Dennis points out, anyone who has been through a divorce or has shared custody potentially can understand the connection to objects and the transferring of goods from one household to another.
In writing “Your Dulcimer’s Too Loud,” Dennis was able to understand the emotional journey she went on when deciding to learn to play the mountain dulcimer, a special instrument not many people play. For her it was not just about doing something unique, but also about reclaiming some part of herself she never knew existed.
As an actress, Dennis can gauge an audiences’ reaction while on the stage. While these micro stories are healing for Dennis, she hopes to have them resonate with her unseen literary audience as well.
“In the case of these particular stories, to have people read them and find resonance for themselves I think is really gratifying,” Dennis said. “We write in solitude and then put it out into the world. If people connect with it, it feels like less of a lonely experience.”
She hopes her readers will bear witness to what happened, but also understand the brevity of it all. To know that the hard times will pass.
Dennis is blessed with various forms of expression. While acting is an escape from reality, writing is her reflection on it and she uses those contrasting tools as forms of human connection.
“I have always seen my life from the outside in as if an audience is watching me,” Dennis said. Having that lens has influenced her distinction between moving more inward. “The process of writing for me feels more like the process I go through when I am preparing for a character rather than the actual character you might see. It is kind of like getting inside a person’s head that you don’t necessarily know. I think it’s interesting because the characters in all my stories are me.”
Lauren’s two micro fiction stories, “Your Dulcimer’s Too Loud” and “Baggage” can be found in issue #11 of The Good Life Review.