How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?
I think I’ve always had the desire, even from a very young age, to create things. As a kid I was constantly inventing intricate storylines for my toys and taking books off shelves, even before I fully understood them, to study and touch the pages. I would explore the huge Atlas my mother kept on the shelf, turning the pages and wondering about these (at the time) exotic sounding places in the world I’d never seen or heard of.
I was also extremely shy, with bad separation anxiety, so for me, as I grew up, books and libraries really became my shelter and refuge and, often, my best friends. I became acquaintances with characters and let their worlds, their stories, their heartbreaks and triumphs become something I could share and feel included in.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
Flash fiction, for me, is what I like to refer to as a wonderful exercise in minimal verbosity. It challenges you as a writer to really look at what you’re writing and question the impact and need for each and every word you put down on a page.
It’s a great building block for expanding on concepts, too. When you have the vague imprint of something but want to noodle with it a little more, flash fiction offers you the chance to compactly write and fashion out that and then, if inspiration hits, take from it what you will and run with it.
Describe your writing process.
My writing process very much stems from that old adage of finding beauty in the chaos. I do try to write a little each day, or at the very least, a few times a week when time and inspiration allow. I find that for myself, often the best place to begin is to simply open a blank document and let my thoughts stream out onto the page, whether that’s simply a sentence or a word or a few lines of dialogue that have been jostling around in my brain.
I find I can pick out strands and concepts from this quite a lot that I enjoy the idea of and play around with, see if I can coax out a bigger story from it. My mentality with revising versus new material is to find the balance. Nothing will kill inspiration quicker than trying to force the writing to come. If it’s not there one day, start something new, work on a different scene, a later chapter. Write flash fiction!
I personally find a lot of inspiration in music and the world around me. I often take walks before I do any substantial writing. It allows me to clear out the cobwebs and sometimes even lets my mind wander to constructing particular scenes or fleshing out ideas. Quite a few of my flash fiction pieces came to be as the result of these pre-writing walks, as it happens.
What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?
Catalogues of Memory was really the result of a particular song that I’d heard on the radio the day before I sat down and wrote the story.
The song was called Human by a group called Of Monsters and Men and it resonated with me, the idea of what it meant to be human and how that might change in some alternate, far distant future. Would humanity still remain as it was, would evolution have stepped in, if not evolution, would the planet have itself evolved and somehow forced us to change to stay as the dominant species, etcetera.
I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of mutation as it relates to fiction and particularly these visions in science fiction and fantasy stories we so often see where you find facets of what it means to be ‘human’ still existing in these fantastical worlds.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m focused on completing a first draft of my debut novel, which I began as a teenager and then placed in a drawer for many years before recently returning to it. It’s a dystopian young adult fantasy that has been slowly evolving in my head for a long time and which I hope (as I’m sure all writers do) will resonate with an audience when it’s finally ready to be sent out into the world.
I’ve also been dabbling more recently with flash fiction, sending pieces out to sites like FewerThan500 to expand my writing horizons and to that end had a flash fiction contribution selected for publication in Project Calm’s second edition, a mindfulness magazine which was released in November 2016 in the UK and December 2016 in the US.