• LISP Team

Claire Williams, LISP 2nd Half 2021 Short Story Finalist by 'Four Cans of Baked Beans'

Claire Williams, LISP 2nd Half 2021 Short Story Finalist by 'Four Cans of Baked Beans'

-Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

I live with my husband, two children and Collie dog Lass in Cheshire. I run my own marketing agency, which is pretty full on, so between that and the children, I sneak in writing whenever I can.

- When and how did you get into writing?

I’ve been a commercial copywriter on and off throughout my career, and you’ll probably find my words in many an advertisement or travel brochure. I started writing novels a few years back after a jolt of grief from losing my Dad. I took some time out and wrote my first novel, a middle grade fantasy, which I self-published. I’ve written two adult speculative fiction novels since and a number of short stories.

- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?

I try to write at least a few times a week, mainly at the weekends but sometimes I sneak in an hour or two in the morning before work kicks in. More and more I am returning to my upbringing to inspire me. I grew up in a poor household in Stoke on Trent and I often find myself journeying back there to revisit the strong, funny and vivacious characters who filled my life. Despite having nothing, they gave me everything. I love writing dark comedy. A laugh when all the odds are stacked against you, and this is reflected in my short story. I also love to write big concepts with a speculative twist. I’m a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi and one day I’m determined to write a sci-fi series.

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

To be honest, I had to keep looking at the page to see if there had been a mistake. Publishing is a tough industry and to get any recognition for something you’ve written is beyond thrilling.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about writing a story?

Everything! Getting the time, getting the confidence, getting the story and characters just right. I can only assume all writers love a good challenge.

- 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 story is an adapted chapter from my third novel. It tells the story of a secret club of unlikely millionaires who are gifted money by an unknown benefactor and is based on a true story of a good Samaritan leaving wads of cash in the gutters of a Northern mining village. The main character Tracey is down on her luck, but has the spirit to see her through.

I’m especially proud of this short story because there is a lot of me in it, including a true story about how my mum couldn’t afford the right shoes for a school walking trip in the Lake District and resulted in us both getting a ticking off from the teacher. The story explores how money, or lack of it, can define us. A blessing or a curse, it can mark us permanently like tattoo ink.

- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a story?

Have a hook, an intriguing title and characters that leap off the page. I was lucky enough to study film at university, and I think this helps with plotting and structure of short stories. I write as if I am watching a scene in a movie, which has to have a beginning, middle and end in a very short space of time.

- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?

For every success, there are a thousand rejections. It’s so hard to keep going at times. To keep putting pen to paper, finger to keyboard. It’s easy to sit here and feel like an imposter. But listing in competitions like this makes it worth it.

- Lastly, do you recommend the writers give a go on LISP?

It’s easy to think you’re not good enough, but I would recommend entering LISP. You never know what might happen. LISP’s past winners have all been writers that don’t fit the mould. Brave, bold voices that present a different take on the world and I am over the moon to be listed as a finalist.