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Interview with Lee Reilly, Winner of 4th Quarter-2018

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

I live on a beach in Chicago, which is wonderful, cold, and likely to get colder (Lake Michigan is rising pretty fast). Daily life: training a therapy dog, providing care to elderly folks in their homes, meeting with and reading other writers, watching the water rise.

When did you start writing? How often do you write? Please feel free to mention your previously published works or awards or any other achievements in writing. We want to learn all about your writing life!

I wrote my first novel at age 10. It was a pithy Westward journey that remarkably resembled my fifth-grade reader. Since then, I’ve published two nonfiction books, Women Living Single and Teaching Maggie, and dozens of articles in American magazines, as well as essays and flash pieces (both fiction and non) in literary magazines. I’m belong to two writing workshops in Chicago, which keep me going.

How did you feel when you learned that you won the first prize of The London Independent Story Prize?

I was—I am—thrilled. Such fun that “The Dance of My Parents” has garnered recognition. It felt quirky and sly when I wrote it. And I so wanted it to be read.

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

The best thing about writing flash is feeling you’re on to something, that this is going to work, just a few more drafts: dump the sister, erase the adverbs, twist the plot, and—isn’t that amazing? Resonance, readable in a minute! The hardest thing about writing flash is getting stuck in the middle of of 300 words. You feel like you’re in an explicably deep puddle.

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 Dance of My Parents” is part of a flash series based on my grandmother’s life. I’ve been working on the series—dabbling with different characters—for several years.

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

Here’s one tip. Walk away: after the first draft, after the fifth, one month or three months later. Seeing your tiny, intentional story with fresh eyes—that’s like having a best-friend-editor-magician at your side.

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?

All of the above. And also: writing competitions raise the quality of the work, inspire us, help us all take new risks.

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

Organizations like LISP actually make flash easier to write and more rewarding. To read the winners, the interviews—that helps me write better stories. To be recognized by LISP—that magnifies the reward I find in the work itself. So yes—go for it. Stick with it. Make great stories.

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