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Lucien Rae Gentil, London Independent Story Prize 2024 1st Competition Finalist, Flash Fiction Finalist 'White on White'

London Independent Story Prize 2024 1st Competition Winners and Finalist, Flash Fiction Finalist 'White on White' Lucien Rae Gentil

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

Most of my days are quite lovely: drinking tea, going for walks, preparing for chess tournaments, talking to friends, playing piano, reading, and, occasionally, writing. I work and study in a field that has nothing to do with literature, which is good. I get plenty of variety.

When and how did you get into writing?

I read a lot and wrote throughout school, even winning a competition there. But, like with a lot of people, my interest in literature got crushed by mountains of prescribed reading and essay-writing and other interests. It was only a couple years ago that I got back into reading, with a vengeance. I read a lot, wrote a lot, and eventually got into submitting my work places. I've gotten my work published in a few nice places now, though I have so much more to write.

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

A routine might do me a lot of good, but I wouldn't know.

Generally things go like this: I’m reading something, or a few things, that I like; I wish I could be so clever; little tid-bits enter my mind throughout the day and I put them into my weird to-do widget on my phone; eventually, I try adding sentences to them, seeing what I can make happen, whether it be 300 or 3,000 words.

It feels a lot less like art and more like a craft, like knitting a jumper, where I'm happy enough just to have made something happen.

How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It's great! I'm still so new to it, with an honest (and well-founded) expectation of rejection, so every bit of recognition is really lovely.

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

For both: finishing it. I can get a lot done on the fun parts, like openings. But putting in the time to fill in the gaps and get to the end is tricky. But maybe it's better that way, so I only finish pieces that really deserve it.

How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected story? Is there a story behind your story?

I was changing my bedsheets from winter to summer ones, and found that while I'd both call them white, side by side, they looked like completely different colours.

I guess, at the time, I felt something more to it. Something about meaning and a struggle to be sure about anything or to find anything concrete enough not to doubt it.

The title---White on White---lines up with that Malevich painting. It's the kind of painting I'd often hate, but for some reason I quite like this particular one. Maybe because it's not too famous.

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

I'm not sure at all. I get the feeling that if there are tips that would easily and universally improve your writing, you would have heard them already. I want to write stuff I like, so nothing is more helpful than reading stuff I like.

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

The best thing is having a deadline. It's great to have something finally take that endless re-writing away from me.

Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?

How crazy would it be for me to say no? I won't, though. It's a great reason to finish and part with a piece. And you're in good company.



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