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Katy Severson, London Independent Story Prize 2024 1st Competition Short Story Finalist, 'Dear Julia, London Fields'

Katy Severson, London Independent Story Prize 2024 1st Competition Short Story Finalist, 'Dear Julia, London Fields'

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

I'm a freelance writer and chef based in East London, and I'm currently working as Editor-in-Chief of an upcoming food magazine. I moved to London just two years ago from the States and I'm very much still adjusting to the UK, but loving it all the same. I split my time between writing, reading, cooking events, and tending to my hundreds of houseplants and spring seedlings. I try to be in nature as much as possible and I find it very comforting and inspiring. 


- When and how did you get into writing?

I've been writing for as long as I can remember—mostly as a cathartic release. Writing has always been a form of mental and emotional processing for me. I decided to pursue professional writing in university before veering off into a career as a chef and then falling back into writing in my mid-20s. I very slowly built a career in freelance journalism while traveling the world before attending Birkbeck, University of London for a Master's program in Creative Writing. That's where I learned to refine my writing and I became a lot more passionate about creative work. I still write both creative pieces and journalism, and I've been very lucky to be published in Bon Appetit, HuffPost, SLOP, Atrium, and others. 


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

I try to write at least a little bit every day. A short poem, an observation, a sentence or two. My best writing always comes spontaneously and often when I'm moving. I love to write on trains, buses and planes or while walking. Someday I'd love to get to a point where I write something like 500 words at a desk each day. That's a New Year's resolution every year. 


- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Recognition is extremely satisfying and reminds me that my work is relevant and resonates with others. Writing is a very solitary process, and while I find it cathartic in itself, sharing my writing with the world and receiving feedback makes the work feel worth doing. 


-  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?

'Dear Julia, London Fields' was written in my first few months of living abroad in London. I was deeply in love with someone who'd broken my heart and I spent a lot of time in London Fields observing the trees. One cold winter morning I sat on a bench for hours, watching everything happening around me while thinking through my own memories and grief. Eventually those thoughts became a letter written by an older man to his deceased wife—and I started writing letters like this all over the city, processing my own emotions through the lens of these fictional characters. This story was finished in just one day. Rare for me, I usually take months or years. 


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

I think the best tip I could give—and I'm speaking to myself here, too—is to write what you love. One of my creative writing tutors told me that if you're bored by your own work, you're unlikely to ever finish it and you risk boring the reader, too. If you stay curious about your own writing you'll never be bored and you'll want to keep going. It's easy to get bogged down by what other people are writing and worrying that you're not good enough. I struggle with that a lot. But if something sparks joy, I think it's always worth pursuing. 


- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?

Absolutely! A close writing friend (and a fellow finalist) encouraged me to submit to LISP and I'm so glad he did. I've applied to a fair few competitions and publications that have rejected my work, and while that's hard, it's always worth it to keep going. Competitions like this are also a great excuse to finish a piece and finally send it off. 



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