- Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?
I live with my husband and daughter on the South Coast of Wellington, New Zealand . Wellington is built on a major faultline and is known for its wind and earthquakes as well as being the ‘coolest little capital in the world.’ My days are usually a rush of starting work early so I can leave just after lunch to pick my daughter up from school. I try and fit my writing in when we get home.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write? We want to learn all about your writing life!
I started writing at primary school. Creative writing was introduced to the New Zealand school curriculum in the 1980s. I always wanted to be a writer and I continued to write through my school years and completed a poetry writing paper at university. Working life got in the way of my writing and I was advised by a careers advisor to try my hand at flash fiction. I submitted my first piece to the New Zealand journal ‘Flash Frontier’ and it was accepted. ‘Flash Frontier’ and the founder Michelle Elvy have been hugely supportive and encouraging.
Eventually I felt brave enough to start submitting to international publications. I’ve been shortlisted and longlisted for several competitions including the New Zealand Heritage Writing Competition, New Zealand National Flash Fiction Day and more recently, the Bath Flash Fiction Award. I was published in the New Zealand short form anthology ‘Bonsai’ last year which was a huge achievement for me. I’ve branched out more recently into the longer form of the short story.
- 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 am so excited and blown away to be on the recommended list! Thank you so much. I love that my writing will be shared with a wider audience and has been recognised by your competition. It’s nice to know that all the time I spend sitting on the couch with my laptop is paying off (please don’t judge me for my less than ideal writing conditions). It’s an absolute privilege and a huge boost to my confidence, like lots of other writers I have terrible imposter syndrome.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
The best thing is the length, the hardest thing is the length! It was the length that drew me to the genre because I was time poor. I also love being able to express an idea in a limited number of words. I love that flash allows pure subtlety in so few words where in a longer story it’s harder to maintain the subtlety. The hardest thing is conveying all I want to within the word limit. I always end up cutting so many words out.
- 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’ve had this story hanging around for over a year and like the caterpillar in the title it metamorphised over time. My family holidayed in the beautiful but difficult to access Golden Bay over a year ago. We had started our holiday in torrential rain and I wanted to set a story in the backdrop of the gloomy weather. I was also inspired by finding tiny monarch caterpillars on a plant in our garden that I had thought was a weed (my botanical knowledge is very poor!). Like in the story, only one caterpillar made it to the chrysalis stage.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?
Write it all down, then cut, cut and cut some more. I have most my inspiration when I’m out walking the dog and often resolve problems with a current piece of writing that I have been toiling over. I often email or text ideas to myself. I usually find if something is not working for me, leaving it for a week or longer and coming back to it later can help me progress the story. Sometimes stories don’t work out but I usually find if I’m unhappy with a piece I can set it aside and usually salvage something from it later.
- What's the best thing about writing competitions?
The deadline really helps by giving me the motivation I don’t have to write. I also love having my writing recognised and shared with the world. It’s great to see so many wonderful writers on social media who have been successful in the same competition sharing their exciting news.
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP?
Absolutely! Being on the LISP recommended list has been such a pleasant surprise for me and just deciding to enter a competition is an opportunity to write and write some more.