Flash fiction often captures particularly moments in time. Are there moments you find yourself returning to for inspiration?
I think for me my writing is typically inspired by feelings rather than moments. Most of the time my writing is entirely fictional – so I’ve rarely lived in the moments I write about, personally. Instead I identify feelings that myself and the character I’m writing about might have shared – in different situations – and focus on that feeling, for inspiration. The plot then just kind of forms around the feeling, once I have a vague story idea in my mind – it all stems from that.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of? If you could provide a link, we’ll make sure it’s shared!
Yes, while I’m proud of every piece of mine that gets published, one in particular is my piece of flash fiction called ‘Secrets, Blood, and Paint’ that was recently published in Ellipsis Zine. It’s the very first piece of flash fiction I wrote, so I’m particularly fond of it, and I’m just really pleased that it’s out there in the world.
What do you find to be the hardest about consolidating and writing stories as flash fiction?
Well, I’ve always been a little long-winded in how I write. I prefer to write novels instead of short stories, for example, because I like that room to develop a story, and just kind of let the story run away with itself, really. But what really attracted me with flash fiction was the fact the challenge of only having so much room, and words, to write my story with. So while I really, really enjoy writing flash fiction, I still can find reigning the story in and consolidating it down quite hard, especially when I have quite big ideas. I’ve always found editing difficult, as well – but with time and practice and experience I’m hoping both will get easier over time.
What inspired the conversation between Elle and Death?
I just really wanted Elle to deal with the grief that consumed and took so much from her, and so to do that I decided that I wanted her to give her a chance to do that directly – by talking to Death themselves. I wanted to tap into the feeling sometimes within grief, that anger, that wanting to confront those who took someone you loved from you – it’s near impossible to do so in real life, so I wanted to give Elle that chance, and to explore what could happen, what would be said – if it was at all possible, through fiction.
This is the kind of story that could help readers come to terms with difficult things. Was there a message or was it good reading?
At the start, I imagined the story would just be a good, thought-provoking read. But as the story developed I realized that it might just be able to help readers deal with things, too. That idea means a lot – I hope if people read the story, they are able to take away the fact that it’s important not to let loss consume you, however devastating it is. It’s important to talk, and remember that those you’ve lost were happy and loved. And while you might feel hopeless and lost, you are still here, and there’s a reason for that. You just have to find it.
If readers are struggling with the loss of a loved one, I recently read the first part of this incredible piece of flash fiction ‘Dear David’ by Yael Van Der Wouden about the very subject, and they give some incredible advice to deal with grief. It’s an incredible piece of writing, too. http://longleafreview.com/vanderwouden/
You can read Chloe Smith’s flash fiction piece, “Elle’s Meetings with Death” in Issue Six of The Ginger Collect.