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Victoria Stewart, LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalist 'Re-run'

LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalist 'Re-run' by Victoria Stewart

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

I grew up near Liverpool and moved back here last year after twenty-five years living in other parts of the country. I used to be an academic, teaching English Literature, but now I have an office job.

- When and how did you get into writing?

I did some writing for the stage when I was a student and went on to take an MA in Theatre Studies, but that was followed by a long period when I was writing academic books and articles but not doing any creative writing. Then I happened to read a newspaper feature giving advice to aspiring novelists, and one of the authors quoted – I can’t now remember who – said that if you want to be a writer, the most important thing is to write. I realised that I’d been thinking about writing fiction for a long time, but hadn’t actually got as far as putting anything down on paper. That got me started. I’ve had work longlisted in the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize (2017) and the Bridport Prize (2019) and I was shortlisted in the Richard & Judy Search for Best-seller Competition (2018). I began writing flash fiction during lockdown in 2020, and my stories have been published by Reflex, Ellipsis Zine and Flash Flood, and in the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology.

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

I’m not a great one for setting rules or targets for writing, but I like to try to find an hour or so every day to give my writing some attention. It’s usually either in the morning between 8am and 9am or between 6pm and 7pm in the evening. But some days it’s enough just to have a think rather than getting words down. Since last year, I’ve been a member of Liverpool Laid-Back Writers Group, which meets once a month and has been a fantastic source of support and encouragement.

The longer pieces I’ve written have tended to be inspired by historical events, often historical criminal cases, but the ideas for flash fiction come from all over – odd memories, overheard conversations, or just a image or impression that sticks in my mind.

- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

It’s always nice to know that someone appreciates something that you’ve put work and effort into – that readers can connect with a piece that might have quite personal aspects.

- 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?

The original idea for ‘Re-run’ came from watching repeats of the Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour during lockdown! And from somewhere came the idea of telling the story of an affair from an oblique angle – the idea that there could be a very mundane side to a relationship that’s typically supposed to be illicit and exciting. But I also wanted to play with the idea of authenticity – which is the ‘real’ relationship, for the narrator’s lover? I started working on this story in February 2022, and at that point it was written in the past tense, which gave it a melancholy tone that to some extent echoed my feelings when I was watching Endeavour during lockdown, but which seemed to take the edge off the narration, and made the narrator seem too much of a victim. I remember it took a bit of time to figure out the ending. My goal was to tie together the two strands of the story – watching re-runs and having an affair – through the theme of authenticity.

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

I like having a deadline as an incentive. Obviously, you have to be able to pick yourself up if your work doesn’t make the cut, but it’s a fantastic sense of achievement when a piece finds its home.

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

Sure! It’s always great to have a chance to connect with the writing community.



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