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Interview with The London Independent Story Prize 2nd Quarter 3rd Place Winner, Richard Salsbury

- Can you please tell us about you? I live in Hampshire, England with my wife (also a writer). I'm currently between jobs, which frees up time to write (and brew beer, and play the guitar). I'll have to earn again at some point, but until then I'm playing the role of artist writing in a garret (well, a conservatory). - When did you start writing? How often do you write? We want to learn all about your writing life! I was encouraged to write fiction by some wonderful teachers at school. Years later I was coming to the end of an engineering degree I wasn't enjoying and didn't intend to do professionally. I was looking for something more fulfilling, and decided to start writing seriously. I write most days, but give myself a hard time for never doing enough. I won the Artificium 'In Brief' competition a couple of years ago, and came third in the Bedford Short Story Competition. My stories have been shortlisted in the Writers’ Forum competition, longlisted for the Bare Fiction and Flash 500 prizes, and highly commended in the Michael Terence Publishing competition. I've also been published in the Portsmouth News, and the late, lamented World Wide Writers.

- How did you feel when you learned that you won the third place for The London Independent Story Prize? How does it feel to have your work recognised? Like finding Friday's footprint. - What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?

I find writing novels is much, much harder. With the very short form there's a great deal of freedom - you don't have to commit vast amounts of time, and you can indulge your stranger ideas. It's freeing for the reader too. They might balk at 300 pages of experimental prose, but 300 words? Yeah, why not. - How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And how long have you been working on it? The story came about in 2012, on an Arvon course taught by Naomi Alderman and Joe Dunthorne. Joe introduced us to the Oulipo, a group of French experimental writers obsessed with the idea that restrictions promote creativity. Fast Jazz is a univocalic (or univocalism), meaning it only uses one of the five vowels ('a' in this case, so all instances of 'e', 'i', 'o' and 'u' are strictly forbidden). I dug up the story again in 2017, thinking I'd simply put it up on my website, but it pulled me back in, demanding that I develop it into something more than just a curio. It took forever. I've never spent so much time on so few words. - Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story? Give yourself permission to use all five vowels. - What's the best thing about writing competitions? Having a deadline, a motivation to finish the story, the chance of winning, getting recognised by a professional organisation, communicating with other writers or a networking opportunity to meet with like-minded people? Now that's a leading question! But, yes - all of the above. -Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP? Of course. How long could it possibly take to write 300 words?

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