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Rachel John, LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalist by 'Ancestral Soup'

'Ancestral Soup' by Rachel John, LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalist

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

I live in Gower with a view of the sea from my office window, but somehow never manage to get down to the beach as often as I’d like. I work full time from home, balancing the books and other things for a small company. And am slave to a cat and an aspie son, occasionally looking after my mum with Alzheimer’s who’s lost all her words. Once everyone’s happy and the office is closed, it’s time for me to sit and scribble.

When and how did you get into writing?

During a recession in 2018, when work began to look a little precarious, I thought I’d write the perfect thriller and that would be my contingency. How hard can it be, I thought?!

I joined a Future Learn/Open University course – Start Writing Fiction – which was a wonderful introduction, as it was free and work was peer reviewed – an excellent resource. It gave me the germ of a short story, which I have since developed into a novel, which I am editing… and reediting… (a bit like Father Ted fixing the dent in his car) and am halfway through a second. I joined another Future Learn course – How to Make a Poem. Again, excellent. Discovered flash fiction – and so far have been longlisted with Free Flash Fiction, and had Editor’s Choice with Friday Flash Fiction.

And I’m continuing to learn every day.


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

I try to write something every day but have no routine, just when the moment grabs me, and even if it doesn’t, I’m thinking about it, or words, or reading. There’s always a notepad and pen to hand (and pair of glasses in every room) to catch that stray thought or word or dream or memory which can sometimes lead to something else. And occasionally I’ll come across a word or combination of words that remind me of the sound of words, unburdened by sense, triggering something else, a thread to another world.


How does it feel to have your work recognised ?

It feels brilliant! It begins to feel possible…


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

The best thing is when that stray word, or thought or whatever, morphs into an entity, a world of its own. Writing is some form of alchemy, witchcraft. Universes, with living, breathing souls, are created. The most challenging thing is perfecting this creation to enable it to exist on its own, and then hitting the submit button, setting it free.


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?

This story has been through many iterations. It’s certainly based on my own family and vague memories of childhood. The idea stemmed from my dad and I researching our family tree and that it was an activity we could do together and that bonded us, it gave me an excuse to visit. The idea that sometimes we need specific activities through which it becomes possible to connect with someone, especially another family member.


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

It’s as everyone says, keep writing and keep reading. Keep persevering. The same with anything.


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

The best thing is to receive some recognition, to think that that specific combination of written words resonated with someone else, is amazing. The most challenging thing is dealing with no recognition, but the feeling of demoralisation and rejection never lasts long. There’s always something else to work on. And the next one may perhaps be better.


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