LISP 4th Quarter 2020 Official Selection Flash Fiction 'Queen of the Night' by Nicki Blake
Can you please tell us about your daily life?
Life is very quiet for me at the moment due to my being made redundant from my management job in the international education sector in September last year. I have a lot more time for writing now - both creative work and job applications! I’ve also been doing some volunteer work as part of a team setting up and running a second-hand bookshop.
When did you start writing? How often do you write?
I have been writing since I was very young. I have clear memories of winning my first essay competition at the age of thirteen and Princess Anne presenting me with my prize book token at Prize Day! Since then, I’ve had periods where I write a lot and others where I’ve had no time or inclination for writing at all. That said, I’ve now been consistently producing work since 2014/15 and have had pieces published annually since then. 2020 was a highly productive year for me as I was able to write nearly every day, the upshot of which has seen me winning contests organised by Writing WA/Night Parrot Press, Globe Soup, SwinWriting, and Meanjin, as well as having my work published online and in print. I’m excited to have three stories in Night Parrot Press’s next anthology due to be launched in April.
How does it feel to have your work recognised?
It feels like crossing the finishing line of a very long and arduous race - you’re often too exhausted by the effort to fully appreciate your success. It’s also incredibly reassuring to know that someone out there is reading your stuff and ‘gets it’. It definitely drives me to work harder and also to take more creative risks.
What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
The best thing is that I can overwrite and then sculpt the story back to its essence, chiselling it down word by word - a luxury that I don’t usually have when writing longer pieces. The hardest part is creating enough depth while sticking to the word limit.
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?
‘Queen of the Night’ began as a longer work that I pruned in order to be able to meet the word limit to enter it for the LISP flash contest. I’d say it has been lurking in my files for five or six months. The plot is layered over a memory of being outside on a very hot West Australian summer night and watching a Queen of the Night cactus bloom.
Can you please give us a few tips about writing a flash-fiction story?
There’s the story on the surface and then there’s the story hidden beneath it. The trick is to make sure that you write both stories so the reader has something to discover.
What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing competitions?
The best thing is when a win or short-/long-listing affirms your work and brings the opportunity for it to be published/printed for people to enjoy. The hardest is the long wait between submission and results.
Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on LISP?
Definitely! This the third time I’ve entered a story for LISP but the first time one has made the finals, so if you don’t place at first, do keep trying.