Allston James, LISP Short Story Semi-Finalist
- Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?
I divide my time between New York City and Northern California. Daily life? so long as every day involves some kind of writing, I feel I can maintain balance, equilibrium. There's a 17th century quote I've always liked: "Writing takes us where we would not go."
In California, I have to engage the landscape in real terms--the ocean, hiking along coastal trails, etc. In New York, having coffee with a good friend, taking in art, theatre.--those are the things that keep me alive.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write? We want to learn all about your writing life!
When I was a little kid, my parents made the mistake of giving me a giant box of crayons and leaving for the morning. I went into the newly painted hallway, painted a nice egg-shell white, and began a long mural, complete with a short story--something about the Great Flood. I wrote a memoir in my 30's, ATTIC LIGHT, and have written dozens of short stories and a ton of plays. Two of my plays, THE LOOK BACK and SURIBACHI, were featured winners in London theatre festivals.
- How did you feel when you learned that you are a Semi-Finalist on The London Independent Story Prize?
I was quite pleased. Some writers don't care for recognition. I've met maybe one or two. I like for people to read my work, and it's always satisfying when a 'jury of my peers' recognizes something special in the work.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a short story?
Knowing how to start, knowing how to stop. When did Lennon -McCartney know they had finished 'Yesterday.'? Where did that song come from, what cosmos?
- 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?
Truthfully, I had a dream that involved a fragment--a shallow grave at the base of Yew trees. That started the flow of 'story' for me in the case of AUGUSTUS + THERESA.
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 1500-word short story story?
The best advice I ever got about writing was this: You cannot write and edit at the same time. Don't mess with the flow, get the phrasings down, the imagery, don't worry about the fine-points. There's time for that later. And as you know, the key to a good story ultimately lies in revision, revision, revision.
- What's the best thing about writing competitions?
It forces one to sharpen the edge of a particular work. You ask yourself, 'Is this the best I can do with this story before I send it out into the world?'
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on short story and LISP?
Why not? The satisfaction of writing a story is writing a story, but there are enhancements, such as having peers read your work and sometimes say, 'Wow. There's something here."