Ten answers to ten questions in 20 words or fewer. That’s less time than it takes to burn a match*.
(*Depending on the length of the match and your tolerance for burned fingers, obviously)
Our newest and final Flash! Friday winner is Catherine Connolly. A longtime Flash! Friday writer, Poised Pen writing group member, and even a one-time guest judge here!, she’s undoubtedly familiar to all of you. Her win this week, especially as her first and our last, couldn’t be more perfect. Please take a moment to read her winning story on her winner’s page here or at the bottom of today’s interview, then take another couple of minutes to get to know her better below. Since it’s our final Sixty Seconds interview, I’ve lifted the word count restriction. Dearest Catherine, take it away!
1) What about the prompts inspired your winning piece? Dragons – given the timing of this week’s nostalgic bidding! I couldn’t resist working backwards from the last line, given it seemed so appropriate. I’ve also been fascinated by the concept of word worlds and the interaction between words and the reader since studying Stylistics a couple of years back, so put a slight spin on that in light of the photo prompt. Having combined the two in terms of concept, the piece wrote itself very easily after that.
2) How long have you been writing flash? For a couple of years, after @zevonesque brought several pieces of his flash to Poised Pen meetings and Flash! Friday was mentioned. I’ve been writing flash fiction consistently ever since.
3) What do you like about writing flash? Many things! Initially, I began writing flash as a variation on the ‘little and often’ method of writing to produced finished pieces within reasonable timeframes and to make them manageable, as my previous writing had been sporadic and I hadn’t written consistently, save for essays whilst studying, for a number of years. The brevity of flash still appeals to me and encourages me to think carefully about word choice – and how many I really need! I do think, however, the changing prompts challenge me to write stories outside of my norm, which stretches me as a writer. There are certainly a number I would never have attempted had it not been for a specific prompt which encouraged me to think at a slant in terms of genre or style. Flash is also great for experimenting with form to great effect – I’ve seen great examples of this from both Josh Bertetta and Karl A. Russell previously.
4) What flash advice would you give other writers? Write many and often. Read many and often. Repeat.
5) Who is a writer we should follow, and why? Too many FlashDogs to mention, so each and every member of the Pack. Talented writers, all and thoroughly lovely people – a number of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person now on more than one occasion. A special shout out to FDHQ too – both past and present – for all of their work to date and for producing a number of fabulous anthologies to highlight the work of the Pack. They work incredibly hard and it is always appreciated. The Poised Pen people – my writing group – are also a great and friendly bunch. Some of the FlashDogs have met a number of them too now! @zevonesque was actually the first person to introduce me to the concept of flash fiction, Flash! Friday as a community (and Twitter too!) and is a great advocate for flash as a form, as well as a thoroughly seasoned judge for a number of the well-known competitions. None of my flash fiction would be here, save for all of their original encouragement, for providing a supportive community of writers and, sometimes, prompting me to read or share at meetings!
6) Do you participate in other flash contests, and which? As many as possible, time allowing. Flash! Friday aside, currently mainly Angry Hourglass. Luminous Creatures (which I understand is coming back for another round in January-February). Previously, Three Line Thursday and Microbookends (not nearly as often as I would have liked), plus others now sadly missed (Mid-Week-Blues-Buster, Race the Date, Trifecta, anyone?).
7) What other forms do you write? Poetry on occasion and short stories. I’ve also got the beginnings of what I think is likely to be a novelette sitting in a Word file on my computer for expansion. I’d actually love to try writing a script or play at some point, subject to the right idea presenting itself to me!
8) What is/are your favorite genre(s) to write, and why? Dark, speculative fiction or mythologically based stories. It’s great fun to write your own rules as you’re going along!
9) Tell us about a WIP. I’ve been working on contributions for pending FlashDogs and Poised Pen anthologies. Flash and poetry – with a drabble to complete! A couple of flash pieces are calling for expansion too. Currently, however, an idea for a world made up of of nightmares and a child protagonist is whispering itself to me…
10) How do you feel about dragons? Their Mother has created an incredible community and nurtured numerous fledgling writers with her time, energy and generosity. Thank you, Rebekah. Now it’s for all of us to fan the flames, to continue to support one another and carry on sending our stories out into the world.
Catherine’s winning story:
Through Lettered Lands
There’s a world of words, they told me.
Mythic in size and proportion.
The magic admits those
who write a sentence on entering,
leaving chocolate drops behind
to mark their route through lettered lands.
Some territories are unknown, they told me.
You must map them yourself,
with other explorers.
They seek you out, supportive,
once you know where to find them.
They run together in packs.
Take care, little wanderer, they told me –
once hunted, few care to return from
the beauty of script scribbled in spaces,
blank, ‘til creation begins.
It expands on arrival, they told me,
so few know how large it’s become,
save for those who’ve travelled since beginning
their journey some long-score prompts passed.
It inhabits hearts and minds, they tell me –
take it wherever you go,
its end starting whole new beginnings,
cartographic creators’ creations,
living inside ever after, full grown.
Explorers seek it, perpetual.
All write on entering –
Here be dragons.