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Tracy Fahey, London Independent Story Prize 2024 1st Competition Short Story Finalist 'The Woman in the Water'

London Independent Story Prize 2024 1st Competition Short Story Finalist 'The Woman in the Water' Tracy Fahey


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

I'm an Irish writer and academic, and I live in a charming village, in a house full of curious objects and books and rather more shoes than any one human should own. I write mostly short fiction, and have published more than 40 stories in Irish, UK, US and Australian anthologies.

 

- When and how did you get into writing?

I started writing in 2012, and my first short story was published the same year in an anthology with Ramsey Campbell, which was a thrill. I was researching a PhD on the domestic uncanny when I wrote my first fiction book on the same subject, The Unheimlich Manoeuvre which was published in 2016. It was nominated for a British Fantasy Award in 2017, just as my third book was in 2021, I Spit Myself Out. My most recent book is They Shut Me Up  which was written during a Saari Fellowship of 2023 awarded by the Kone Foundation.

 

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

I try to write as often as I can. I write best in the mornings, early mornings, before the day claims me. My favourite way to write is in remote places, and I've been lucky enough to have been awarded residencies in secluded spots of Ireland, Greece and Finland. I love to write by water; the ocean, rivers or lakes. And I'm inspired by Irish folklore, by the female condition, by the terrors of home, by body-based fears, by liminal spaces.

 

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It's a very sweet thing to have your work read and considered by others. It's always a joy to be published or asked to contribute to a publication. And of course, a special thrill to be shortlisted for an award. As a writer, most of your validation comes internally, but external validation is so heartening. 

 

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

The best thing about writing a story is being in the Flow. That state of being where the ideas are coalescing and forming, images knitting together - when you know where everything is going, when you hear the characters voices ring true. The most challenging thing is when you fail to reach the state of Flow.

 

-  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?

There is a very large story behind this tiny story - since 2021 I've been working on a body of stories about powerful mythological women and what they might have to say to women today in terms of agency. Scéine, who features in this story, is just a footnote in a larger epic story, but she directed me towards researching the tales of women and water that run through folklore, particularly the motif of the drowned woman or goddess, who often becomes magically transmuted.


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

I never write for audience, always for myself. I turn inward and listen to that sure, clear voice that guides me. Writing for me is a lot like channelling. Oh, and I always start with the end. Once I know where the story is going, it makes it easier to steer.


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

The best thing about competitions is that they make you write to a deadline! I suppose the most challenging thing is that in many cases you're competing against a large and unknown field of writers, so you just have to hope that your work is strong enough to stand by itself.

 

- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?

Yes. Absolutely. This experience has been wonderful. I didn't expect to be shortlisted in a large competition like this, but am so delighted that my story resonated with the judges. This shortlisting has meant a lot - I'd reached a point where my work had taken over most of my potential writing time. This LISP shortlisting was the sign I'd needed to take time to return to my creative work.



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