Today, I’m welcoming Cathy Lennon to my blog. Cathy is a writer of fabulous fiction and was recently announced the winner of this year’s National Flash-Fiction Day Micro-Fiction Competition. At 1000words, we have published not one, not two, but three of her stories: A Useful Facility in the North, Segments and A Time for Giving. Don’t rush off to read them just yet, though. Stay a while and find out what Cathy has to say about writing flash-fiction and her 1000words experience.
Thanks, Cathy, for agreeing to be interviewed. What prompted you to submit your flash-fictions to 1000words?
I discovered 1000 words not long after I joined twitter. I enjoyed reading other people’s work and then one day there was an invitation to submit to a contest. There was an image of a wall covered in graffiti, somewhere hot and deserted. I immediately saw my character Faisal, pining for the familiarity of his old school yard and wrote ‘Segments’ quite quickly. I was really thrilled when it was published!
We’ve published several of your stories at 1000words. Can you tell us how you get from your chosen images to your final flash-fictions?
I still find it hard to pin the creative process down. I almost prefer not to think about it. Some of my most appreciated work has been written quickly. Other pieces I’ve laboured over and got nowhere with. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. I do love it, though, when you get totally absorbed in painting a tiny portrait on a grain of rice, which is what flash is to me.
Other than images, what things inspire your stories?
I’m an information junkie. I love odd facts and random trivia. If I come across something that makes me think ‘how interesting!’ I’ll write it down in one of my journals. If I’m looking for inspiration, a quick flick through will often provide me with a jumping off point. Other times it’ll be an overheard remark or a desire to capture a particular scene or feeling.
Which writers (or other creatives) have inspired you?
Twitter has been an eye-opener. I’ve discovered people whose work I really like and whose attitude to the writing process has really encouraged me. I’d include in that lots of flash fiction writers – Calum Kerr, Tania Hershman, Nik Perring and many others. The support and friendship from other writers has been brilliant. I really like the work and writing ethic of Angela Readman. I’ll be looking out for her short story collection this year.
What is it you like about reading and writing flash-fiction?
It’s quite ‘freeing’. It distils and lingers, a bit like poetry, and it can be a great outlet for the surreal and off kilter. It stands in its own right as something worthwhile to read or write and it can also be an icebreaker, pushing the blocks of writing brain-freeze out of the way!
What tips would you give to aspiring flash-fiction writers?
Hmm. Giving tips. A friend once said ‘it seems to me that far too many people have too much to say for themselves.’ I thought that was quite wise. We all just struggle along in our own way doing our own thing. I think you can get quite paralyzed sometimes, with all the writing tips out there!
Thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed. Before you go, though, is there anything else you’d like us to know?
At the moment I plan to keep on doing what I’m doing. My main focus is on learning and improving – and enjoying. I spent a lot of time trying to force myself to write certain things in certain ways and the end result was that I wasn’t happy. I reckon I’m in for a long haul, but that’s absolutely fine.
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