Robbie Taylor Hunt, Recommended Writer, LISP 2019
- Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?
I'm a Kiwi-Brit living in London, having grown up between New Zealand and Essex. I work in theatre, directing and running workshops for youth theatre groups, including young people with autism. If you want to know more then @RTaylorHunt is me and @AirlockTheatre is my theatre company, on Twitter.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write? We want to learn all about your writing life!
I loved writing when I was a kid and teenager, then felt a bit intimidated by it for a few years and focused my creativity on theatre-making. I go through phases of productivity but at the moment I'm writing fairly often - whenever I have the time and energy to! This is mainly flash fiction and fiction, and some TV. I particularly like writing for Young Adult audiences. Earlier this year I was a finalist for Fiction War with a flash fiction piece about app-dating. I also write web-series with a friend of mine, i.e. BROOD which you can check out on YouTube. Unlike some other creative practises that rely on other people, resources, facilities, etc., writing is so great because you can just sit at a laptop and be creative.
- 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 very flattered and pleased! Always nice to have some recognition and affirmation, as writing can feel like such an isolated, isolating thing sometimes. There's definitely the feeling of "is this any good?!" quite often, and there's no real way to get an answer on that, so recognition in LISP and other prizes is always lovely.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
The best thing is also the hardest, that you only have a very limited amount of words so you have to jam-pack your story with character, style and narrative. Ultimately that pressure has made me really refine my writing and make sure it's something concise and effective. In other work I have a tendency to focus on overall plot without giving enough detail to the importance of precise language, but flash fiction forces you to do that.
- 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?
There's elements of truth in the story, but also lots that has been exaggerated, adapted and dramatised. I was noticing shifts in child-parent relationships between me and my parents, and my mum and her mum, particularly around care which feels like such a parental thing. But as children we have to care for our parents in lots of ways, and often increasingly throughout our lives. Also I wanted to play with how people express childishness in serious situations, which I think usually happens subconsciously. I wrote it quickly, then honed and tweaked it on-and-off for a week or so afterwards, before submitting.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?
Don't feel pressured by the 300-words to start with; write what you want to write, then 'kill your darlings' as they say and do a harsh edit. During the cutting down I first figure out what the story is really about, and make sure everything is helping serve that narrative. I think that if something is 'nice' but not really relevant or adding much, then it has to go, even if you like the writing! After some slog you should be left with the best bits. Chose a specific topic or story or moment, so you can enjoy the 300-words rather than feel like they're limiting what should and could be a longer piece. Also think of how you can use the brevity to your favour. What might be particularly exciting to see in a snapshot? Flash fiction drops you into something and you don't have time to calibrate before its the end, so use that to have some fun.
- 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?
Writing competitions have been a great nudge to actually just get on with it and write. I love getting into the mode of "enter something into everything!" and just forcing myself to get some form of entry in to as many competitions as I can. There's nothing to lose. There's so many entries, so few prizes, and writing is so subjective, that really you can't be too hard on yourself if you don't win. Enjoy the challenge!
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP?
Of course! Why not give it a go?
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