Interview with Barclay Rafferty- Recommended Writer- LISP 3rd Quarter 2018.
Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life? I live in the small town of Corby in England. In recent years I’ve been lecturing part-time and offering private tuition in English, having spent most of my twenties studying for a doctoral degree at De Montfort University, where I remain an Honorary Research Fellow. Fiction has basically replaced writing seminars/workshops, conference papers and journal articles as a more fulfilling outlet for me. In my spare time I enjoy following sport, particularly football and boxing. - When did you start writing? How often do you write? We want to learn all about your writing life! Well, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I’ve only taken fiction ‘seriously’ over the last six months or so, although I’ve been published academically previously, in Shakespeare (Taylor & Francis) and The Journal of Film and Adaptation (Intellect Ltd), in addition to performing peer review for Adaptation (Oxford Journals). Writing fiction is a new skill, though, and this is my first real achievement in the field. I’ve often been told that I write well but hearing it from strangers is totally different. I do try to write (or edit, in my case) every day but it all depends on my schedule and other factors like writer’s block. My work is heavily reliant on the style itself – much more than plot and character – so there’s nothing to really ‘bash out’ when I lose the flow. - How did you feel when you learned that you are on the Recommended List of The London Independent Story Prize? How does it feel to have your work recognised? It feels wonderful! Have you seen the judges? Seriously, though, I was very surprised. Having your
work recognised by such an esteemed panel truly is an honour. - What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction? The best thing is probably the limitations (for want of a better word) of the form, having to convey everything in three hundred words. One of the most difficult aspects is allowing your voice to soar and resonate on such a tiny stage. My methodology is to basically think of stories as songs, self-contained little orbs: lyrics sheets are sacraments to liner-note kids like me! - 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? For this story, specifically, I drew upon the natural world. I went outside looking for inspiration during a thunderstorm and the title just came to me. Then the rest followed. There is a story behind the story, though, and it’s a testament to just putting your work out there. I had two (what I thought of as) ‘mature’ pieces that I submitted, and on a whim, thought I’d enter a third. I was quite hesitant because it felt somewhat ‘raw’ and I was slightly embarrassed by it. Of course, that was the one that ended up being Recommended. The story itself was part of a longer piece (of roughly a thousand words) about a singer on a cruise ship, haunted by the things that left him out at sea, literally and figuratively. The story didn’t really work (quelle surprise!) so I chopped it up and made it more jugular, playing around with the form, speaker, and tense. It took about a month to edit, I think. The content is quite fragmented, which kind of goes against the ‘rules’ of flash fiction in that it doesn’t stick to one scene and features a fair few characters, but perhaps there’s something in that. It’s a very teenage story, feverish in both style and content, melodramatic but hopefully still funny, and linguistically very histrionic, albeit intentionally so. To paraphrase a line from the story, it tries to make the profane sacred. - Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story? Understand what it is you’re flogging and put the hammer down on it because it’s all you’ve got, really. I think it’s also important to have some kind of inspiration to stop yourself going through the motions, whether it’s a phrase, a mood, a person, or an idea. More practically, I’d recommend closely following the rules laid out on the website: be professional and you’re at least giving yourself a chance. Editing is key, too: for me, it works best in the morning. Anything else? Be brave. Oh, and come up with a cool title! - 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? It’s all of the above, generally speaking. Personally, the recognition it brings and the ability to get art out into the world are the most satisfying elements. -Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP? Absolutely! This kind of validation can really accelerate or rejuvenate your fervour, bolster your bio, open doors and counteract rejections. It has a singular magic. I especially recommend LISP because the stories they champion are, in my eyes, the most vital and daring out there, which is why I submitted this one, in particular.