- Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?
I am Scottish by birth but have now lived in England longer than I lived in Scotland. I live in East Yorkshire and work in local government doing business transformation.
- When did you start writing? How often do you write? Please feel free to mention your previously published works or awards or any other achievements in writing. We want to learn all about your writing life!
I’ve always had the urge to write but didn’t take it up seriously until about 2005, when I was a member of Alex Keegan’s Boot Camp, a very hard-working online writers’ group. For about three years I wrote around half a million words a year, short stories which were mostly rubbish but, as Ray Bradbury (probably) said, the first million words are practice. I then did a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Hull and got the studying bug and spent the next five years doing a PhD on American novelist Cormac McCarthy. That pretty much put paid to my own writing, but when I finished the PhD I returned to it. I wrote a novel, Cloudland, for which I’m trying to find a home, and a second, Cuddies Strip, which I’m about to radically revise, and I’m working on a third novel now. I’ve also continued writing short stories and have had a decent record in competitions in the past two years.
- How did you feel when you learned that you are on the Highly Recommended List of The London Independent Story Prize? How does it feel to have your work recognised?
Writing is difficult because it’s easy to become discouraged and start doubting yourself. That’s why I enter competitions, because the validation that comes from being placed gives you the confidence boost to keep going.
- What's the best thing and the hardest thing about writing a Flash-Fiction?
Flash fiction is a brilliant way to sharpen your writing skills, and to force yourself to work harder. Most writers simply don’t write enough. Musicians expect to practice hours every day but for some reason writers seem to want to avoid the practice and move straight into the concert hall. It doesn’t work like that. A lot of the time, writers get bogged down with one story or one novel, and endlessly revise it until they become bored with their own creation. Flash fiction is instant. Give yourself some prompts and half an hour and write. There will be something at the end of it. Sometimes it will be rubbish, sometimes it will be good. Nearly always, though, there will be the kernel of an idea.
- 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?
The story is adapted from my first novel. There’s a lot of value in using characters you know very well for flash fiction, because all the back story and character motivation are already there and you know how the protagonists will react and think and behave. You have so few words and so little time to develop your story, so having half of it already resolved makes things much easier.
-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP?
Writing flash fiction is a really good way to hone your writing skills. You should try to write a flash every day. It only takes twenty minutes or half an hour and it will seriously improve your writing. And, once you’ve written something, enter it for competitions. You need to gauge what standard you have reached so that you can continually improve.
Good luck to all aspiring writers.