LISP 2023 Flash Fiction Finalist 'Dancing' by Sue Harper
- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?
I was a Professor of Film History at the University of Portsmouth. Since retiring, I have written fiction pretty much full-time: my literary masters are Ovid and Kafka... I do a lot of performance gigs in Portsmouth. Apart from writing, I am a keen gardener. Being a chronic insomniac has helped my work no end.
- When and how did you get into writing?
I have written a lot of academic books on British cinema, but when I retired I changed tack. I have wanted to write fiction since I was a child. Egaeus Press published my short story collection The Dark Nest in 2020, which sold out. I've had some stories in edited collections and magazines. My website is www.sueharper.co.uk and my YouTube channel is sueharpershortstories. I've just finished a novella called The Sarah Chronicles, and started a family history called Blood and Coal. I'm very interested in the interface between creative and academic methodologies.
- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?
I try to write every day. I have to have my desk just so: I can't write anywhere else. What inspires me is my desire to write from the edge of common sense. I guess my stuff could be called Feminine Gothic: it is extreme, and is preoccupied with transformation and terror.
- How does it feel to have your work recognised?
Wonderful! Although I've had some stories published in magazines, I've never had any success with competitions, so I'm thrilled.
- What's the best and most challenging thing about writing a Flash Fiction?
Doing something exciting and challenging in a small space. Making a rigorous structure which engages the reader.
- 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?
It was based on a Chagall painting I liked very much, called (I think) "the lovers", where a violinist plays as the lovers dance. I wanted to write about the transforming power of love, and to deal with something which we know to be impossible, but which we hope might be true. I wrote it in 30 minutes!!
- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Story?
Calm down and clear your mind, and go into a sort of trance. LIsten to the music of the words. Never listen to normality.
- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions?
They put you on your mettle and concentrate the mind on a specific topic.
- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?
Oh yes. LISP are very well known and rigorous, and fair.