How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
I was a prolific reader from a very early age. At the age of eleven I wrote a play and had it performed by my class at school. I also wrote a collection of poems around the same time. I wrote poetry for myself only throughout my school and college days and early adulthood then turned to short fiction in my thirties. Some of these stories were broadcast on radio and published in literary magazines and anthologies. A couple of novels followed. In 2005 I did a MLitt in Creative Writing and in 2010 completed a PhD on the topic of parental bereavement. Part of my thesis was published as a book by Canterbury University Press in 2011.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
At the beginning of 2016 I completed another novel which had taken over three years to write. I wasn’t ready to begin another long project so I started putting together a collection of short stories. Around the same time I discovered Flash Frontier, a New Zealand website edited by Michelle Elvy. I found some beautiful examples of flash here and on other websites so I set myself the challenge of trying to write it. Soon I was hooked. I love the way a complete story can be told in so few words and at the same time leave gaps for the reader to fill in with their own imagination. My first flash was long-listed in the New Zealand National Flash Fiction Day Competition, the second was short-listed in The Short Story Competition (UK) and others have been published or are forthcoming in Flash Frontier, The Jellyfish Review, Flash Flood and The Linnet’s Wings.
Describe your writing process.
When I was teaching I fitted writing around evenings, weekends and holidays. Now that I’m writing fulltime I work for about six hours a day in my study which overlooks farmland and mountains. Mornings are usually devoted to new material and the afternoons to revision. When I’m working on long fiction or non-fiction I do a lot of research and a lot of revision. Flash fiction begins with an idea and the process is much quicker though not necessarily easier.
What was the inspiration behind what was published on Fewer Than 500.com?
The story ‘A Strategy for Change’ began with a news item I read about bullying in a local primary school and the principal’s response to it. ‘The Girl Who Wanted to Fly’ sprang into my mind as I was feeding my alpacas one beautiful morning when a rainbow arched over the sky. The best ideas arrive when I’m not sitting at my desk.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing more flash fiction as I have found it to be excellent discipline for writing in any genre. At the same time I’m continuing to work on longer short stories.