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Farha Quadri Flash Fiction Winner, LISP 2nd Quarter 2020

- Can you please tell us about your daily life?

I live in south London on the top floor of a bright Victorian terrace that is filled with light and constantly inspires me as a writer. During the week, I work for a large NHS hospital in a management role so have spent the past few months of my life subsumed by Covid-19. Seeing people at both their best and their worst has informed my study of character and I’ve been lucky to have writing as a way of processing my thoughts. I often go out for long walks where I spend time observing others and their interactions. It may sound trite to say but I find human beings endlessly fascinating and I think through looking and listening there are infinite incredible stories waiting to be told. - When did you start writing? How often do you write?  I started writing as a teenager – anything ranging from diary entries to bits of poetry. However, it’s only in the past year that I’ve gone back to writing every weekend and discovered that I feel the most myself in the moments when I write. I’m also a Literary Kitchen alumna and these courses propelled me to get to grips with the flash fiction form. I am also currently working on my first novel that has emerged out of writing ideas from the past year. - How does it feel to have your work recognised? 

It feels surreal as it’s the first time I’ve ever won a prize for my creative writing. I also feel proud to have produced a piece of writing that the judges enjoyed reading because that’s the greatest privilege as a writer.   - What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction? 

The best thing is that the brevity of the form gives you the chance to experiment with ideas and try out several new stories. Sometimes those micro-ideas will even evolve into longer pieces – a short story or even a novel. The brevity is also the most challenging aspect of Flash Fiction as you have little time to grab the reader’s attention and leave an impact. -  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?

I started this story while on a plane journey. I had left the novel that I was reading in my suitcase so felt compelled to use my spare time to write something, anything. I went back to this scrap of a story when I saw the LISP competition deadline and then edited it over a weekend. I address topics that matter to me - chiefly family and societal expectations for women. The question of racial inferiority also surfaces and this is more important than ever to highlight in the context of George Floyd’s death. - Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?

Re-reading your piece to cut out superfluous words is key to a powerful flash-fiction story. It’s a real test for a writer to see if you can pull the reader into your universe through a few short paragraphs. I also focus on what emotion I want to leave the reader with and allow that to anchor the climactic moments. - What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions? 

The best thing is that a competition offers a deadline for ‘finishing’ a piece of writing that seems impossible to finish. The hardest thing is that you send a private part of yourself into what seems like an abyss and never know what reaction it provokes (unless you win or get shortlisted of course!) -Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP?

Definitely! Flash fiction offers a chance to hone your writing and most importantly editing skills. I applied on a whim and completely forgot about my submission until I got the congratulations email – so really you have nothing to lose!



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