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Gina Challen, LISP 2nd Half 2021 Short Story Finalist

LISP 2nd Half 2021 Short Story Finalist 'That Which is Woven' by Gina Challen

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

I am lucky enough to live in the South Downs and walk on the hills every day with my two collies. Born in London, I moved to West Sussex in 1979 and, although originally a city girl, the Downlands stole my heart. Like most of us, I wear many hats. I am a daughter, mother and grandmother, a dog owner, a writer and an insurance broker, (I have given that one up at the moment.)

- When and how did you get into writing?

In 2009, as a very mature student, I began a BA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and followed with a Masters in Creative Writing in 2014. This became the springboard for my writing. I began to submit to competitions and build my first collection. I have work in various anthologies and online. Two stories were shortlisted for the prestigious Bridport Prize and in 2018 a further story was longlisted for the RSL, V S Pritchett Prize. My critical essays are online at the Thresholds Short Story Forum. My debut collection of short stories, Chalk Tracks, was published by Valley Press in July 2019.

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

I try to write 3 days a week but with caring for a very elderly mother and my grandma duties it’s usually reduced. I do try to get something done every week even if it’s editing. I take my inspiration from a combination of triggers, the landscape of the Downs, images, snatches of overheard conversations or radio programs and I jot these things in a notebook. At some point, a couple of these triggers will merge and I have a story.

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Being recognised in competitions definitely gives me the courage to keep writing. I’m hugely grateful to every judge who has considered my work worthy, they are the ones who, when the doubts creep in, have encouraged me. Having my collection published was, and still remains, a huge validation for me.

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

The best thing about writing is editing. I relish honing the story until it’s the best I can make it. The worse thing is looking at a blank page and wondering how to start.

- 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?

A friend of mine is a weaver and I became fascinated with the process. I loved the language of weaving, the history behind it and the rhythm of passing the bobbin back and forth. As I researched, I began to understand my character and her story unfolded to become, ‘that which is woven.’

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

The LISP is a good competition to enter. The social media coverage and promotion for finalists are a wonderful boost for a writer.



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