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Lisa Fransson, LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Flash Fiction

LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection, Flash Fiction, 'Her Mother’s Likeness' by Lisa Fransson

Can you please tell us about your daily life?

I’m a translator by profession, so words are what I do, and in particular I spend hours every day in that liminal space in between languages where meaning resides, because translation isn’t about simply switching one word for another, it’s about grasping culture-specific concepts and finding the words to express them within an entirely different set of parameters. I live in Brighton with my husband and three children. Having lived by the sea for nearly 30 years now, the ebb and flow of the tides have become much like my own breath and not a day goes by without me spending time by it, on it or in it.

When did you start writing? How often do you write?

For me writing is not a hobby, it’s a need, or an instinct maybe. I started writing stories when I was four years old, but the road to actually trying to make something out of my writing has been strewn with self-doubt. It was only when my third child was born that I lost my fear and decided to give writing a proper go. My short fiction have now been published in The Dark Mountain Project, The Forgotten and the Fantastical 4, Best of British Fantasy 2018, Wild Women, Villains and The Dawntreader. I’ve also had two picture books published in my native Swedish, Beckmörkret and Älgpappan, with two more books on the way. I write every day, apart from weekends and school holidays. Because life is busy, I set myself achievable targets, whether that means writing 500 new words, or editing five pages, or just opening a file and reading through a paragraph.

How does it feel to have your work recognised?

For me, having my writing recognised is huge. In particular my English work, since English is not my native language. There are so many excellent writers out there, so to get any form of recognition means a lot. But at the same time, I’d like to say how incredibly supportive the writing community is. There’s nothing quite like it and I’m so glad I finally found my way there.

What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?

The best thing, for me, is the word count. To write a story in 250 or 300 words gives a discipline. There is no room to go off on a tangent, or to get lost in characters or plot. The hardest thing, is to know when a piece is finished, because it seems as if there are always more words to be cut, but because you need to convey your idea to the reader, you mustn’t cut too much either.

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?

When time allows, I take part in #vss365 (vss - very short story) on Twitter. Every day of the year, the host of the month posts a one word prompt and the task is to write a tweet-sized story using that word. Anyone can take part and it’s a great warm-up at the beginning of the day if no imminent deadlines are looming. Through this exercise, I’ve returned to the same characters, Lucy and Greg. For a long time I’ve had the idea of expanding these tweets into flash fiction, or poetry, and eventually end up with an overarching story, a novella-in-flash. Her Mother’s Likeness is the first story I wrote based on these tweets.

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

I find it’s very much a show-don’t-tell exercise. Often I have an emotion, or an atmosphere, I want to convey, but the one thing I must not do is mention that emotion or atmosphere. It’s also essential, even though the story is often less than 500 words, to know your characters. I’ve worked with Lucy in Her Mother’s Likeness for over a year now, via the very short story community on Twitter. I know her upbringing, her ex-boyfriends, her fears, the customers who come to her café and I know how she’s going to find happiness.

What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?

The best thing about writing competitions are the opportunities they give, to work towards a deadline, the possibility of being published, of getting recognition. The hardest is that they aren’t entirely democratic. A large section of society is instantly excluded, because they can’t afford to take part or do not think it’s for them. This also applies to courses, to attending events and festivals and simply finding the time for writing. It’s important to recognise that to make it as a writer today, a pen and paper just isn’t enough. I say this as someone who grew up in a remote and rural environment where writers were considered to be something other, something better (Remember the long road strewn with self-doubt?).

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

Absolutely. This was my second time entering LISP and I will be back with more.



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