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Interview with Mahesh Nair, Highly Recommended Writer- LISP 3rd Quarter 2018

Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?

I’m a freelance writer and a blogger. I work in Manhattan. My daily life is intensely boring.

When did you start writing? How often do you write? We want to learn all about your writing life!

The painful writing bug bit me a decade ago. I enrolled in New York University to complete a professional certificate in creative writing which took me two years as there were five different courses. Around the same time, I did an intensive course on acting from Lee Strasberg. This divided my attention, and I failed to invest time in either field. But I started writing short stories and was encouraged when journals like Literary Orphans, Crack the Spine, The Bookends Review, Smokebox accepted them. Later, I pounced on the opportunity to be a contributing author for Lady by the River, a self-help book available on Amazon. My love for flash/micro fiction dawned at the beginning of this year, and I was delighted when Ad Hoc Fiction accepted some of them. When news came that I was long-listed for Reflex Fiction prize (judging is in progress), I knew I was doing something right. I write every day, for at least ten minutes.

How did you feel when you learned that you are on the Highly Recommended List of The London Independent Story Prize? How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It felt special. I’d surfed your website earlier and had read some of the stories and admired how you’d been brilliant in your inclusivity. Having lived in India before moving to the US, I understand the disparate cultural sensibilities and their dissimilarities in writings. Most voices go underrepresented because written works of the west are invested in their writers, which is fair but incomplete. Added to this is that the East is more exposed to Western literature, not the other way. And this might continue unless organizations like yours take the required risks to incorporate varied voices. And this variance is truly reflective of the current era of one world, which unfortunately isn’t turning out to be the case, politically.

What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?

The best thing is that the first draft is ready in no time. The hardest thing is to decide which of the so many first drafts is a good fit to be sent for acceptances and awards. The editing bit is most gruesome, painstaking, but if done well, nothing else is more rewarding.

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?

I was writing a prologue to my first novel/novella (WIP) and had written a paragraph about a well. Around this time, news broke from India about the gruesome rape of a girl child. My story was more of an outburst than a piece of fiction, given the inevitability of a violent ending, set beside a well. I wanted something instantly done to the perpetrator so he could feel the same pain he’d given the girl. Democracies and the courts of laws are the best part of civilization, but they shield rapists and murderers and delay the process. Justice delayed is justice denied will never be a cliche. Also, I wrote in the second person as an attempt to call out the general mindset of men, so they erase from their headspace any tendency, which might be a product of their conditioning, to disrespect a woman. Before you trouble a woman, think about your mother. But if you trouble your mother, I’m sorry you were born.

Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?

Fitzgerald said finding the key emotion may be all you need to know to find your story. Emotion must remain constant for it is the only force that advances a narration. A good beginning, middle, and end will give a great structure, but sans the emotion and a character or two to root for, the time spent writing a piece isn’t worth the sweat. Besides, each word should matter and contribute to the story.

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 a great mix of all the above. But yes, I’ve learned that having a deadline helps in speeding things up. Also, with flash fiction, one learns that a well-written novel can be a bunch of several micro pieces. Focus on the micro, know how relevant to the plot each word/emotion is, and macro will happen by way of advancing the narration.

Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP?

I certainly do and will. Writers should know about LISP and submit their stories. It’ll make their day. It’s made mine.

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