Alan Kennedy, LISP 2nd Half 2019 Longlisted Writer
-Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?
Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, I have been living in Spain for the past 27 years. My first degree was in musical composition and I have worked as musical director for theatre, English teacher, grave digger, sales rep and recently (the last 15 years) as a storyteller, travelling round the country for nine months of the year.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write?
I started writing five years ago whilst training as a creative coach and found that most of my clients were struggling writers. Inventing stories has since become my main creative outlet. At the moment I am halfway through an MA in Creative Writing at the Open University.
I have one daughter who is finishing Medical school. Apart from the creative arts, my other passions include yoga, snorkelling, cooking and learning languages. I am currently studying Basque, my partner’s mother tongue.
I try and write every day. I don’t often have long stretches of time to devote to my stories. The big change recently is using my smart phone with the WORD app which means I can write anywhere, and it always updates itself when I sit down in the evening at my computer. The idea for this flash came when I was writing character backstories for a pretentious artist in a longer story. I based him on a neighbour I had in London whose was always talking about creating a masterpiece but was easily distracted.
- How did you feel when you learned that you won The London Independent Story Prize?
I was very excited about being short listed for this prize. I find I work better if I have a deadline and entering writing competitions gives me that.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
Since I tend to ramble and never get to the point, flash fiction writing is good discipline. I find the best approach for me is just keep telling the story before paring it down in the editing stage. I recommend other writers try it as part of their warmup sessions.
I have several short stories published and I have ended up on three short lists this year.
- 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 idea came from writing a back story of a character in a longer story. He was a writer. I remembered the Camus story about the person who went over the same paragraph for years. It was based on a neighbour I had in London years ago. His flatmates were always on at him to tidy up. His respinse was that he was an artist, he lived on another plain. He never actually produced anything.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?
The first thing to do is just write without counting the words.
Then hack out everything that's not the story.
Focus only on one person
- What's the best thing about writing competitions?
I need deadlines to actually polish stories. Otherwise I just start new ones every time I sit down to write. That's the main motivation for me. I have several stories in various stages of development and every month I choose one or two to polish and send off.
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP?
I think your policy of choosing several pieces to publish (not just the winner) will make me enter every year. I would recommend your competition.