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Emma Phillips, LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalist by, 'On the Eve of the Matchgirls' Strike, 1888'

LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalist by 'On the Eve of the Matchgirls' Strike, 1888' by Emma Phillips

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

I’m a primary school teacher and mum to a ten-year-old boy. (He’s ten on Christmas day!)

- When and how did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing stories and poetry since childhood. My parents instilled their love of words and reading in me. My mum sang me nursery rhymes which I loved to memorise and when I was about eight, I made a book with my dad about a man who lived down a drain! My GCSE English teacher was/is a poet, and we had a very inspiring creative writing group at school. I spent much of my twenties teaching English as a foreign language, travelling around Asia thinking about writing, began writing poetry again when I was living in London afterwards and rediscovered fiction just before my son was born in 2012. Then I hardly wrote at all until Lockdown, when I chanced upon flash fiction and got hooked on it. In 2021 I came second in the 18th Bath Flash Fiction Award and that gave me such a boost that I finally began to believe I can do this.

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

I have recently reduced my hours at work, to allow more writing time. I’m not sure I have a routine as such yet, but I write as often as I can, usually in the morning and try to build in time to edit. I find inspiration at work, from places/people I’ve known, in snippets of overheard conversations and my husband and son are good at throwing out crazy plot ideas if requested. I often have a narrative voice that drives my first draft. When I’m writing flash fiction, I try to get as much down as I can initially.


- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Rejection comes with the territory, so recognition is always a huge buzz. I am tremendously grateful to the judges and editors who have placed or published my work and although I haven’t actually met many flash fiction writers face to face, the flash fiction community on social media is hugely welcoming, inspiring and supportive. Getting into Best Microfiction 2022 was an amazing feeling.

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

Always the ending! I have notebooks full of beginnings that hit a dead end I just haven’t broken through yet.


-How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

I started the idea of On the Eve of the Matchgirl’s Strike for a different competition but didn’t have time to polish it. I left the piece for several months and completely rewrote it into this version. My brother once lived in a rented flat on the site of the old Bryant and May factory in Bow, which was the first time I heard about the strike. The matchgirl’s memorial charity website also has information which inspired this piece.


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

Take your inspiration, whether it is a title, a voice, an image, the germ of an idea and just go for it. Write something and you’ll either shape it into a piece that works for you, or it will need refining. Don’t abandon the beginning of a story, even if it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere as you can always come back to it. Believe in yourself and keep on keeping on!

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

The best thing is recognition, the most challenging thing is rejection. It can also get quite expensive!

- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit their stories/screenplays to LISP?

Of course, if I can be a finalist, so can you!


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