Lucy Ashe, Short Story Semi-Finalist, LISP 3rd Quarter 2020
Can you please tell us about your daily life?
I am an English teacher, the perfect job for someone who loves finding a captive crowd (most of the time!) for discussing literature. Creative writing lessons are my favourite with the GCSE students. I love giving them an extract from a book I’ve been reading (recently ‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins) and seeing what they make of it before they have a go at their own creative response.
When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was really young (though most of my early stories were terrible pastiches of fairytales), but I started writing more regularly several years ago when I decided I wanted to write a speculative fiction novel. I teach dystopian fiction to my A Level students, and absolutely love the genre, so decided to write my own, a mix between ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘The Water Cure’. I have just started sending it out to agents after much editing! I love writing short pieces too (poetry, flash fiction, short stories): it’s fun to condense an idea into such a small number of words. I have recently had poems published in ‘One Hand Clapping’ and ‘The 192’, and a flash fiction piece in ‘Truffle Literary Magazine.’
What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Short Story?
This question sounds like the start of one of my lessons! I love the challenge of a short story. No wasted words and the reader needs to be able to fall inside the story from the first sentence. First sentences are the hardest thing, I think. My favourite part is reading the first draft and deleting half the words.
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?
The idea for ‘Where the Waters Meet’ came to me on a run along the Regent’s Canal. I have been fascinated by canals for years; I think my first ever project at primary school was about canals, weirdly. I love running along them and imagining the way the landscape around them has changed. It is the fusing of something manmade with the nature that has been allowed to grow within them, that sparked my ideas for this story.
Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 1500-word short story?
Don’t be afraid to write too much and then cut ruthlessly. And imagine that underneath the 1500 words on the page, a full, living, breathing life continues for the characters and setting. But the reader doesn’t need to read that to enjoy the story!
What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
I entered my first writing competition in July this year: a first novel award. The thrill of the competition helped me to refine my synopsis and pitch: a really useful opportunity. I didn’t make the longlist, but I’ll keep trying. Writers have to be able to cope with rejection and see it as a motivation to move on to the next edit, the next submission, the next endless checking of emails…
Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on LISP?
Definitely! Seeing my name on the list of semi-finalists gave me a huge boost in confidence. And this story has now been accepted for publication in a journal that I love (I’m not allowed to say which yet), so the story continues its journey.