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Interview with Helen Chambers, The London Independent Story Prize, 4th Quarter 2018, Recommended Wri

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

I live by the river in North East Essex, UK, where I like to go on long walks to stimulate lots of thinking…

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

I’ve always written, but recently have taken it more seriously. I won the Fish Short Story prize in 2018, have an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Essex and have several flash publications, some of which you can read some on my blog:

- 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?

I was absolutely thrilled to make the recommended list. It’s always brilliant to have your work recognised – partly because it encourages you to keep on writing and partly because after all the work involved in editing and polishing a piece, it’s good to know people are reading and enjoying your story.

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

I love writing flash fiction – I love working with every single word, I love working out how to say the same thing in fewer words and I especially love the fact that you can imply so much and know that the reader will be intelligent enough to work out more from the things you have left unsaid.

- 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 started with the truth – farmers really did use gossamer from spider’s webs to pad wounds and staunch the flow of blood, and then applied the ‘what if?’ principle (and allowed my imagination to run wild). Blurring the border between truth and surreal is enormous fun.

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

Aim for a greater word count while you’re telling the story, then cut, cut, cut! Put your story away for a few weeks, look again and cut some more. Trust the intelligence of your audience – you don’t have to state everything. Prompts vary for me – sometimes they are visual, and often I incorporate random words which stimulate useful ‘sideways’ thinking! (a technique learned from Meg Pokrass - see her website - she is a huge inspiration for flash fiction writers.)

- What's the best thing about writing competitions?

Writing competitions are great for motivation, for a deadline (I can waste weeks choosing to delete single words then re-inserting them later).

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

If you are writing flash fiction you should definitely be entering competitions like LISP and also reading the other entries – there is a strong and supportive community of writers and they are well worth engaging with.

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