Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Interview with Trish Nicholson - winner of the Flash 500 Competition

Trish Nicholson shares her thoughts on how she reacted on finding out she'd won the Flash 500 Competition.

How did you feel when you learnt that Runnin’ the River had won first prize?
I, floating – like a feather in the breeze. But now the challenge is consistency. I’ve had at least one story short-listed in Flash500 for the last four quarters, so I need to work from that base to develop more and better stories, enter other competitions too.

What were you doing when you received the news?
Pretty mundane. It was 6am and I was barely awake; checking my email while the kettle boiled for that first cuppa – I needed it by the time I’d fully understood your message. For me, Monday mornings will be forever blessed – wonderful things can happen at the start of your week.

How long have you been writing flash fiction?
I’ve usually written non-fiction – books and articles, but a year ago I decided to pick-up on a childhood passion and try writing fiction. I was surfing the Net one day looking for stories to read, and came across the Flash500 website. I read some of the winning entries and I’ve been hooked ever since.

What is it you like about writing flash fiction?
I’ve spent half my life travelling, and quickly learnt to travel light: packing only essential items that serve several purposes – a sweater is a pillow, a draught stopper, and padding for the camera. It feels good when you get everything you need in that one bag. It’s the same with a flash story. Words have to multi-task; I weed out anything not essential. I like the precision, playing around with subtle shades of meaning. To get a complete story and a full character in so few words, I aim for density rather than minimalism – plenty of threads in a close, tight weave.

Where do you find your story ideas?
By the time I’ve completed a story I’ve usually forgotten what sparked it off, but I do remember Runnin’ the River. The initial inspiration came from an old Johnny Cash song I heard on a visit to Texarkana some years ago, but I changed the character and the meaning of the end. I can’t tell you more than that or it will spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read it yet; it’s on

What advice would you give to anyone starting out with flash fiction?
I’ve written some tips on flash writing, posted as a guest blog on the NZ Writers College website  But one of the most important things is getting feedback to improve your work. I used your excellent Flash500 critique service when I first started. And I have a wonderful writing buddy who is brutally honest. Other than that, write lots of stories. There’s always an element of luck in winning anything, but remember the old saw: the harder you work, the luckier you get.

And what are you working on now?
I’m trying to get the best of both worlds: my current WIP is a non-fiction book but it’s about stories. I can’t say more at this stage - it’s still morphing.

Thank you, Lorraine, for interviewing me. It’s lovely to be on your Blog site.

You can find out more about Trish by visiting her website:
The Writer’s ABC Checklist

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