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Abi Henning, LISP 2nd Half 2019 Winner!

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

I live in Brighton, England with my husband and son and I am an English teacher at a school nearby in Newhaven.

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

I have been writing on and off ever since I was at school (when I persisted in writing scripts of dubious quality) but this year I made a resolution to be more disciplined and write on a regular basis. Creative Writing Ink was a great source of inspiration as they post a new prompt every week and I was encouraged along the way by being longlisted by reflex fiction and shortlisted twice by women on writing. I started to share some of my stories via a blog:

which was a good way to gather my ideas together and get some initial feedback. The writing community online is super supportive. 

- How did you feel when you learned that you won The London Independent Story Prize? How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Honestly, I am stunned to have won the London Independent Story Prize. My husband phoned me at work to tell me and it still hasn't really sunk in. There are so many amazing writers out there and I'm blown away by the flash fiction I read on a daily basis so it's a real honour to have been selected. 

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

The best thing about writing flash fiction is the need to be selective- a restricted word count forces you to keep only the best and most relevant words. It's always a challenge to get a big idea or story across clearly within the limit and that makes you look at your own writing very closely and analytically. The hardest thing is being patient. I always find that my stories benefit from a bit of distance. When I go back to them a short time after the first draft I can usually tell if I have something I like or if it's not going to work. It can be difficult to sit on my hands and wait though...

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?

Coming up with ideas for stories is a tricky thing to explain. Often, for me, a visual prompt gets me thinking and then I let it sit in my head for a bit. By the time I get to writing the first draft, I've often made lots of revisions in my head- I wander around talking to myself quite a lot...

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

My tips for a 300-word story would be to just start bashing something out. For me, it's clear as soon as I start writing if this is something that can fit into the restricted word format, or if it needs a bit more space. I like to think of short flashes as a 'snapshot story' - a little window into someone else's head, or a chance to look through someone else's eyes for a moment or two.

- What's the best thing about writing competitions?

Writing competitions have been excellent for motivation - it's good to have a deadline to aim for, and obviously any recognition is a huge boost. I follow lots of other writers on twitter and the writing community is so, so supportive. It's great to have so many fabulous stories on tap too!

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

Would I recommend other writers to give flash fiction and LISP a go? Definitely. Last December I would not have even dreamed I would be here today having won a prize!


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