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First of all, fear not; National Flash Fiction Day is not cancelled!

We are, however, moving our celebrations completely online and are working out the best ways we can serve the flash fiction community in this strange time. We will be posting more details in the coming weeks, but we’re excited about the possibility of bringing even more to the online flash fiction community worldwide for 2020.

We will still be printing the National Flash Fiction Day anthology, but we won’t go to print until it is safe for our printers to be at work. We can’t guarantee a timescale for the print edition at present, but our aim is to launch the digital version of the anthology on 6 June, regardless. We’re looking into various possibilities for a virtual launch party, so stay tuned!

Apologies for the delay in announcing the 2020 anthology line-up. We will post more details as soon as we can, but in the meantime, please bear with us.

Last but not least, we hope you and your loved ones are all staying safe and well.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winning and highly commended stories of this year's National Flash Fiction Day micro fiction competition!

These ten stories can now be read at 2020 Microfiction Results and they will be published in the forthcoming 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology, which will be out in time for National Flash Fiction Day on 6 June 2020.

Congratulations to our winning stories and their authors:
First Place Winner:
Second Place Winner:
Third Place Winners:
Congratulations to our highly commended stories and their authors:
Thank you again to our four judges. Their job this year was extremely difficult, requiring extra rounds of voting to reach our final ten. In the end, they were unable to separate the two stories vying for third place and we felt the fairest thing would be to award two third place prizes.
Congratulations again to all our prize-winning and highly commended authors, and to all those who were shortlisted. And, a big thank you to everyone who entered this year’s competition and trusted us with their stories.

This year, 400 micro fictions (flashes of up to 100 words) were submitted to the National Flash Fiction Day Micro Fiction Competition.

Our judges,  Susmita Bhattacharya, FJ Morris, Anne Summerfield and Rob Walton had the difficult job of whittling down the 400 stories to a shortlist of 27. This was no easy task and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the judges for their hard work and for the speed and
conscientiousness with which they carried out the judging.

It isn’t easy to tell a story in a 100 words, yet we were blown away by the variety of themes, subjects and styles we saw in the submissions.   All four judges read each and every piece with care.  Thank you to everyone who sent in their work; we appreciated the chance to read your flash.

Now, without further delay, our 27 shortlisted stories are:

Anything You Do Say May Be Given In Evidence
Aunt Lilah is resting/restless
Bogged Down Sister
Coulrophobia
Craving
Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend
Gelsenkirchen: 10/10ths cloud, 30 aircraft lost
Home Fires
Inhaling the Dust of Color
Jimmy Stewart’s Prayer
Nantucket News
Other People's Things
Russian Doll
Send Later
Spinning
Stalker
Taking Care Of The Little Fella
The Art Gallery Attendant Nine Months After Divorce
The Currency of Hugs
The Late Trains
The Wrong Bird
This Body Will Become A Corpse
Three Chords and the Truth
Tips for a Successful Whale Watch
Wafer Thin
When Neil Armstrong Walks on the Moon
You Told Me Numerology Was a Science

Thank you again to everyone who submitted, and good luck to everyone who made the shortlist!

Welcome to the sixth and last in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and microfiction competition judges! This week, Diane Simmons chats with one of this year's anthology editors, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, about childhood reading, language differences, and what she'd love to see in the submission queue for the 2020 NFFD anthology....

Diane: You are one of the editors for this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology. The theme is ‘family’. Is there anything in particular you are looking for or think people should perhaps avoid?

Ingrid: With any themed call-out, editors often receive clusters of stories with very similar characters, themes or conflicts. Pieces that delve into uncharted waters or that approach familiar topics from unusual angles enjoy a significant advantage. We want to hear the story only you can tell. Also, we’re open to all manner of interpretations of ‘family’; we want this word to be a springboard, not a restriction.

Diane: Your flash fictions have met with a great deal of success. Can you remember when you first encountered the form or felt inspired to write your own?

Ingrid: I loved Jorge Luis Borges from the moment I discovered Labyrinths on my parents’ bookshelves. Although I didn’t make a huge distinction between his poems and short stories and shorter short stories at the time, his were the first flash-length pieces I really fell for. I also really loved Raymond Carver.

I wrote short stories in my late teens and early twenties, some of which were rather short indeed, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I first intentionally set out to write something that was defined by a word count, highly compressed, and that had the texture of ‘flash’ as opposed to a very short short story. Although very short stories have been around, I'm sure, since words began, I feel so lucky to be writing in this particular moment; there is so much energy, experiment and play happening with flash fiction right now, and it’s wonderful to see the growing appetite for flash in readers and publishers.

Diane: Being a writer, a co-director of NFFD, editor-in-chief for Flashback Fiction and a flash editor at JMWW must keep you very busy. If you have any spare time, what else do you like to do?

Ingrid: So, I like kinda nerdy things.  I love recreational programming, playing Go, and setting and solving puzzles. I don’t do any of these things as much as I’d like, although I do attempt ‘The Listener’ cryptic crossword every week.  I need to do something analytical on a reasonably regular basis or I get a bit antsy.

Diane: Were you a reader as a child? If so, can you remember any books that you particularly loved?

Ingrid: Oh gracious, when I was little I lived at the local library, which was about three blocks from my house. From a very young age, I was allowed to go alone, and I remember spending hours there, first in the children’s section, then branching out to the reference section and other parts of the libary. (I remember that delicious, slightly naughty feeling that I was getting away with something by reading books from the GROWN-UP fiction shelves.)

This was all pre-internet, when the library felt like my only lifeline to the outside world. It was so exciting to find out about a new book, then order it on inter-library loan, wait weeks for it to arrive and then...devour it.

I don’t think of myself as having been a heavy genre fiction reader as a child, but when I jot down the books that made a big impression during those library years, I start with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, then move through the Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher, Michael Ende's The Neverending Story (with that magical red and green text), Ray Bradbury’s short stories, Frederik Pohl’s Heechee Trilogy, and Fahrenheit 451. Oh, and all of Borges.  And A Tale of Two Cities. (Oh, Sydney Carton!) When I was a little older, I discovered the canonical greats of magical realism – Allende, Borges, Márquez, Morrison, Murakami, Rushdie, Vargas Llosa, etc.) – and then it felt like whole new universes opened before me.

Diane: You were born in the USA but live in the UK. When you write flash do you alter how or what you write depending on which country you are submitting the flash to?

Ingrid: That’s a great question. I usually localise the spelling, punctuation, and ‘obvious’ word difference, especially where it might cause confusion (‘sidewalk’/‘pavement’), (‘pants’/‘trousers’) or interfere with the emotional impact something is meant to have (ahem, ‘panties’/’knickers’).  Sometimes, I have two separate versions where I use different references, or where I am extra careful to keep more subtle grammar differences in mind.  I think it can be worth the effort, particularly when sending to smaller publications where editors might not receive many international submissions.

That being said, I’ve lived in the UK for pretty much my entire adult life, so my American English is both woefully dated and hybridised with British English. I don’t think I could pull off any sort of contemporary, slangy American voice without taking advice…though I usually get around the problem by writing things set in the past or avoiding dialogue altogether.

(For the record, at National Flash Fiction Day, we’re fine with submissions sent from anywhere in the world, using any flavour of English whatsoever.  You don't need to change anything for us!)

Ingrid Jendrzejewski serves as a Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day, Editor in Chief of FlashBack Fiction, and a flash fiction editor at JMWW. She has published over 100 shortform pieces and has won multiple flash fiction competitions, including the Bath Flash Fiction Award and AROHO’s Orlando Prize for Flash Fiction. Her short collection Things I Dream About When I'm Not Sleeping was a runner up for BFFA’s first Novella-in-Flash competition. She can be found online at www.ingridj.com and @LunchOnTuesday.

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th February 2020. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

Welcome to the fifth in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and microfiction competition judges! This week, Diane Simmons chats with this year's guest anthology editor, Sophie van Llewyn, about writing, history, novellas-in-flash, and what she'd like to see in 2020 NFFD anthology submissions....

Diane: Together with Ingrid Jendrzejewski, you are editing this year’s National Flash Fiction Day anthology. Can you tell me what made you choose the theme of ‘family’ and if there is anything you are hoping to see in the stories submitted?

SvL: When Ingrid told me we should consider possible themes, I couldn’t stop thinking that we all relate to family, in one way or another. Family shapes us by its mere existence — or by its absence.

And whether it’s the way we relate to our mother or father, or to our children, or to the choice of not having children; to members of the more distant family that have changed us; whether it’s a self-made family of close-knit friends, this set of complex relationships defines our private lives. How we see family defines different cultures, and lifestyles.

So I’d like to see diverse approaches, and imaginative takes on the theme. Surprise me!

Diane: Your novella-in-flash Bottled Goods was long-listed for The Woman’s Prize for Fiction in 2019. It is wonderful to see the novella-in-flash come to the attention of a wider audience. What was it about writing in the form that attracted you to it?

SvL: Its flexibility and its playfulness. The fact that it pushes the boundaries of storytelling, and that the writer can experiment with the spaces she/he leaves between the pieces of the story arc.

Diane: The idea of a novella-in-flash is that each story within it should be able to stand alone. Do you have a favourite flash in Bottled Goods?

SvL: I do love ‘Epicentre’ most, one of the flashes towards the end of the book. I’ll try to talk about it with as little spoilers as possible, so I’ll say this much: it shows the Romanian Revolution, the bloodiest of all the revolutions of 1989, and how Alina perceives it. For me, it was unendingly moving to write. I owe so much to those people who went out in the streets and died in December 1989. I owe them my freedom. Who I have become. Where I am right now.

Diane: I understand that you are in the process of writing a novel. Are you able to tell us a little about it or is it top secret?

SvL: No secret at all! I’m currently working again on my novel set during WW2, at Bletchley Park. It’s about young women finding their own footing, and the power of sisterhood. I’m also currently in the process of turning it into a screenplay — and this has helped me so much reorder many of my thoughts about the book, that I simply had to translate my new findings into a new bout of editing.

Diane: Are there any flash writers who you would say have influenced you more than others or any that you particularly admire?

SvL: I have to say that I have learned something from every single piece of flash fiction I’ve ever read. As I first discovered the form, I was endlessly curious about what it can do, and completely awed by flash fiction writers, and their different approaches. I don’t want to start listing names, because I would need pages to quote all the writers I love and admire, and I’d hate to leave even a single person out!

However, I will say this: there are two persons who shaped me as a writer more than anyone else, and I’m endlessly grateful for their kindness, support, keen editorial eye, shoulders to cry on, abilities as motivational coaches, and advisers extraordinaire in the world of publishing. Not to forget that they’re extremely talented writers, and that I’ve learned from their craft, and admired their work so much over the years. They’re my critique partners, Christina Dalcher and Stephanie Hutton.

Photograph of Sophie van Llewyn

Sophie van Llewyn is an anaesthesiologist turned mother and writer. Her novella-in-flash Bottled Goods has been longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019 and for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. She's born in Romania, but currently lives in Germany. You can find her online at www.sophievanllewyn.com or on Twitter @sophie_van_l.

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th February 2020. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

Welcome to the fourth in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and microfiction competition judges! This week, Diane Simmons chats with one of this year's microfiction competition judges, Susmita Bhattacharya, about her recent short story collection, performing her work, and historical flash, as well as her thoughts on judging our microfiction competition...

Diane: Your book of short stories Table Manners won The Saboteur Awards Best Short Story Collection category in 2019. Could you tell us a little about the book?

Susmita: The short stories in this collection were written over a period of around 12 years. I am a great fan of the short story form, and this collection really encapsulates everything that is important to me. They explore the human condition and social aspects of living in different cultures, the definition of home. I love travelling, and I think that the stories here travel around the globe as well. So yes, a very special book for me and all the more exciting that five of the stories are being serialised for Radio 4 Extra.

Diane: As one of the four micro competition judges this year, what excites you most about judging the competition?

Susmita: I think the most exciting part is that writers believe in themselves and are willing to send their work out to competitions. And it is a big responsibility and challenge, as a judge, to read fairly and give everyone a chance. I think everyone is a winner – just for writing that story. The question is, who will excite me the most with their words on that day. Who will leave me at a loss for words on that day? To get the opportunity to read a variety of stories and learn from them, admire the craft of the telling is always an exciting part of the judging process.

Diane: Do you enjoy performing your stories at writing events? Does knowing you might have to read it out loud ever affect how you write a story or do you ever alter the wording slightly before performing it?

Susmita: I love – LOVE – reading/performing my stories at writing events. I’m really quite shy as a person. So, you’ll find me hiding in a corner at social gatherings, or just chatting with someone I know. But put me in front of a thousand people and ask me to read to them – I have no problem with that! Crazy, I know!

I don’t think about the end result like reading/performing when I’m writing a story. No, it’s the story and how it will affect the reader, who is reading it in their own quiet space, is what I aim for sometimes. Mostly, I don’t think about the end result at all. I just want that story on the page. However, when I’m performing the story, I do alter/edit/add/lose words to fit either the time slot, or simply the mood I’m in. Personal copies of my books are just covered in alterations!

Diane: I notice from your website that you enjoy listening to Pink Floyd. Do you write with music on in the background or do you need complete silence?

Susmita: I don’t really listen to anything while I’m writing. I need silence. That’s why I don’t like writing in cafes either – I get easily distracted. Libraries or my dining table work best for me. But I do like listening to music when I’m thinking about the plot, storylines etc. and it depends on what kind of story I’m plotting. Classic FM helped before I compiled a few different playlists to listen to. Pink Floyd features a lot, as does jazz and old Hindi songs. At the moment, I’m researching for the next novel, so I’m listening to a lot of Bollywood item numbers – do Google it 🙂 – and I promise, it’s all in the name of research!!

Diane: If you were to write a historical flash tomorrow, is there any period of history that appeals to you particularly?

Susmita: I love historical flash, and I have written a few recently. I’m really interested in the freedom movement in India so around 1947, the partition and the Bengal famine. I love Indian art and architecture, music etc. among other things, and I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the Mughal emperor, Akbar’s, court. Or to be with the architect who designed the Taj Mahal. Or listen to Tansen singing Raag Malhar. I’d have loved to have been one of the cave painters at Ajanta. So, which one appeals to me most? I think the Ajanta cave paintings. Yes, I’d like to write a flash about that because seeing those murals and learning about their history changed my life in many ways.

Susmita Bhattacharya grew up in Mumbai. She sailed around the world on oil tankers for a while before settling down in the UK. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian, 2015) was long-listed for the Word to Screen Prize at the Mumbai Film Festival, 2018. Her short story collection, Table Manners (Dahlia Publishing, 2018) won the Saboteur Award for  Best Short Story Collection and was a finalist in the Hall & Woodhouse DLF Prize, 2019. Her short stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and been featured on BBC Radio 4.

She teaches creative writing at Winchester University and facilitates the SO:Write Mayflower Young Writers programme in Southampton.

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th February 2020. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

Welcome to the third in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and microfiction competition judges! This week, Diane Simmons chats with one of this year's microfiction competition judges, Rob Walton, about death, love, infidelity and writing, not to mention what he's looking for when judging our micro competition...

 

Diane: You won the National Flash Fiction Day micro competition in 2015 with your story Fly. Since then you’ve been a judge for a few NFFD micro competitions and I wondered if there are any themes that you see cropping up year after year?

Rob: Death. Love. Infidelity. In some of the competitions I’ve judged, domestic violence has been a recurring theme. Obviously an incredibly sensitive issue which has been handled in many ways but, sadly, rarely in a way which stops you in your tracks or makes you think or feel in any way differently about the subject. In a competition which attracts so many entries, there are bound to be some where people are working through things. Clearly this is massively important, but it doesn’t always lead to the best flashes.

Diane:  Do you only write flash or are there any other forms that you enjoy writing?

Rob: I began by writing short stories, and then moved to flash and then to poetry. I now write mostly poetry and flash, but sometimes other things emerge which are happily without labels. I like things which are hard to pin down. When things occur to me, it’s usually quite clearly as the beginning of a specific form, but not always. I have also written work which has been unsuccessful in one form, but then worked when I’ve tweaked it into another. I have an ongoing battle with script which I think I should be able to write, but it doesn’t quite happen. I also have a page or two in most of my notebooks which are essentially jokes which never see the light of day. Let us gather together and give thanks.

Diane: How important do you think social media is for writers?

Rob: I’m never quite sure. It obviously works for a lot of people, but it’s also very crowded and it can be hard for some great voices to be heard in the middle of all the uninspiring noise. I use twitter, instagram and my personal facebook page to mention publication successes. I tend to avoid mentioning the rejections, and concentrate on blowing my own trumpet, hoping I can one day put ‘Scunthorpe’s Biggest Bighead’ on my twitter profile. I hope people take it as read that each acceptance sits on a big pile of “No, Not on your Nellie”. Curiously (or not), I do appreciate it when other people post about their non-acceptances/rejections/insert your own. I particularly love it when they’re specific. It can be very reassuring when you know writers you like and respect have also had a No Thank You/Bugger Off/You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me!/Do You Want A Fight? from a particular publication.

Diane: Judges often say that there are not enough funny stories submitted to competitions. Has that been your experience?

Rob: Yes, definitely, and it’s something I always hope to find. In submission opportunities like NFFD’s micro competition there will be a few, but rarely any that make me laugh. I often find they try too hard and/or rely on a punchline which you can see a mile off.

Diane: Do you set yourself a schedule for writing?

Rob: I usually work part-time, teaching in a primary school on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. This should mean that I spend those other four days doing more writing, but it doesn’t always work out like that. I’m very motivated by deadlines and once in a while they force a schedule on me. I have no problem with ideas and sometimes think it would be good to have fewer so I could spend more of my disorganised not-really-a-schedule on the ones I’ve already had. I would pay good money for Writers’ Ideas Block. And up to thirty pence for a loaf of bread.

 

Rob Walton grew up in Scunthorpe, and now lives in Whitley Bay.  His short fiction and poetry for adults and children appears in various magazines and anthologies.  His flashes have appeared in Blue Fifth Review, 101 words (US), Flash Frontier (NZ), Love Bites (Dostoyevsky Wannabe), Port (Dunlin Press), Flash, I love You! (Paper Swans), Story Cities (Arachne Press), Ham, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Cabinet of Heed, Number Eleven, National Flash Fiction Day anthologies, Bangor Literary Journal, Northern Voices, Popshot, Pygmy Giant, Reflex, Spelk, Words for the Wild and others.  He has also written for performance and collated the text for the New Hartley Memorial Pathway.  His words have appeared in shop windows and Scunthorpe United’s matchday magazine.  He is a past winner of the UK’s National Flash Fiction Day micro-fiction competition.

 

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th February 2020. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

Welcome to the second in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and microfiction competition judges! This week, Diane Simmons chats with one of this year's microfiction competition judges, FJ Morris, about her collection, writing habits and social media, as well as what she's looking for when judging our micro competition...

Diane: Your collection This is (not about) David Bowie was published in 2018 by Retreat West. Could you tell us where the idea for the collection came from?

FJ: I had wanted to put together a collection for a while, but every theme or idea I had fell short. The ideas dried up. But then Bowie died and it set off a chain reaction. It was like watching an explosion. A supernova. A massive star had collapsed at the end of its life, and it sent out these ripples, this burst of energy. His impact on people spilled out. He was the first record my mum had ever bought, but my dad couldn’t stand him. People were crying for him, writing about him and what he meant to them. David Bowie was more than a person. He was a feeling. He was an idea. He allowed people to express themselves, to be experimental. He embodied everything I wanted to do with my writing. So that’s when the lightning struck. The words started flowing, and they didn’t stop.

Diane: You have lived most of your life in Bristol. Do you think the city has shaped what you write about or how you write?

FJ: I’ve spent my whole life hiding my Bristolian accent. I can’t say ‘burger’ in any respectable way. But now I’ve moved to Oxford I feel more Bristolian than I ever did living there, and more attached to it as part of my identity. I’ve been blind to how much my writing was held together by it. There are characters with Bristolian accents, school day memories in my collection, but I grew up in a very different Bristol than the one people think of now, the dynamic, eccentric metropolis. I grew up in an old mining village near Fishponds called Mangotsfield where my Mum grew up. People didn’t really read. And there were so many reasons for that (which if you get me a pint – I can go on about for hours). A big part of me writes for them.

Diane: On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?

FJ: I don’t have a typical day. Life has been throwing me around A LOT. At the beginning of the year, I was having to fit it around a job. But since May, I was lucky enough to have been given the chance to write for a year. For a month or two, I was writing five days a week but with a break on Wednesday and Saturday. I would write in the mornings and edit a different project in the afternoon. But then I had to move to Oxford, and I couldn’t keep it up. So after a month of NOT writing, I’m back at it.

Diane: You are one of the judges for this year’s NFFD micro competition. Could you tell us what’s important to you in a micro fiction?

FJ: Truth. Something that resonates. As you’ll see from my own writing, I have a tendency for enjoying the absurd, a bit of magic. But not just for the sake of it. There has to be good cause for it. I find that surrealism has a way of expressing truth better than realism sometimes.

I think it’s only right to warn people that I have personal aversion to anything that isolates people from a story or reading in general – like using Latin, or words that people have to look up, or even experiences to some extent. But I am always excited when I see something that experiments, breaking the rules to convey something powerful.

Diane: Do you think it’s important for a writer today to engage with social media?

FJ: It’s really important for writers to engage with people, but there are many ways to do that. Social media is one. It suits dressing-gown-wearing hermits like me really well and it connected me to other supportive writers, which has been great. But even social media has a way of shutting me down after a while too. I was marked ‘fragile’ since I was a kid and so the intrusion of bad news can get a bit much. So it’s good to know yourself, and what is good for you.

It also takes a fair bit of time, investment and creativity to connect with people well. I used to tweet and post for a job, so I was a bit lame at doing my own personal accounts. That’ll probably change now I have more time and energy. But if there’s anything I would say about social media it’s this: write something that’s worth tweeting about first. My dream is to write something where other people will do the social media for me. That’s my goal. How amazing would that be!

 

FJ Morris is a proud Bristolian and award-winning author. Her collection ‘This is (not about) David Bowie’ was published by Retreat West in November 2018 and received a special mention in the Saboteur Awards for Best Short Story Collection in 2019. She’s been published in numerous publications in the UK and internationally, and shortlisted for a variety of awards. Find out more at www.freyajmorris.com.

You can buy This is (not about) David Bowie online for £6.99.

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th February 2020. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews with this year's National Flash Fiction Day anthology editors and microfiction competition judges! This week, Diane Simmons chats with one of this year's microfiction competition judges, Anne Summerfield, about her writing, teaching and process, as well as what she's looking for when judging our micro competition...

Diane: You are one of the four judges for this year’s National Flash Fiction Day micro competition. Is there anything you are particularly looking for in a micro? Or think people should perhaps avoid?

Anne: I’d love to find something fresh and exciting in subject matter, language or form. Surprise me! My favourite micros often include precise, sensory details and feel like glimpses of fully developed worlds. I especially like stories which imply rather than show or tell – for me that is a characteristic of flash.

I’m not a fan of twist in the tail endings and prefer an ending that has some foreshadowing or at least feels like it belongs. Hard to describe and even harder to do! Also I’d prefer not to read tales full of misogyny or gratuitous violence.

Diane: You have been a tutor for The Open University and taught creative writing at a local arts centre. Is teaching something you enjoy?

Anne: I love the facilitating, coaching and encouraging parts of teaching. It is wonderful to see the spark of an idea catching hold when running workshops (all those heads down and pens moving!) and also to help people develop confidence in their work. I enjoy those aspects of teaching very much. Marking Open University assignments to tight deadlines was rather less fun, especially when the allocated time for marking included Christmas and New Year!

Diane: Do you have a favourite part of the writing process?

Anne: I love doing research, which is dangerous because it’s so easy to spend far too much time researching, say, Victorian underwear only to find that my character is too poor to have any. I’ve had to train myself to fact check after writing some kind of rough and ready draft rather than start with a heap of reference books or Google. I also love editing, and again have to keep myself in check so that I don’t start editing too soon and waste loads of time fixing paragraphs that come out next draft.

Diane: I particularly admire your story 'Afterwards' published in Things Left and Found by the Side of the Road. Do you draw from your own life much when you are writing?

Anne: Thank you for saying you admire that story, Diane. It was very emotional to write and one of the most autobiographical things I’ve written, though there are aspects of it which are pure fiction. I don’t think I’d ever have written it without Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash. The speed of Kathy’s course means having very little time to research or doing the thinking necessary to make things up. And the way Kathy runs the workshop means it provides a nurturing and supportive space. I’d recommend Fast Flash to anyone who wants to develop their flash fiction.

To answer the question, it depends very much on the individual story how much I draw from my own life. Some stories start from a personal experience or something I’ve been told or overheard but others seem to arrive from a different place – out of the ether? I have another story in Things Left and Found by the Side of the Road called 'Mr Ono Makes Bonseki' which was entirely written from research and has nothing from my life at all.

Diane: If you could be the author of any flash fiction ever written, which flash would you choose?

Anne: Just one? There are so many flashes I admire and would love to have written myself! Okay, I’m going to choose one of the first very short stories I loved and which I’ve continued to love ever since. It was written before the term flash fiction came into being but is 650 words long so I think it counts! The story is 'Girl' by Jamaica Kincaid, which is online here at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1978/06/26/girl and anthologised widely.

Anne Summerfield gave up working as a technical writer in the computer industry to study for an MA in Modern Fiction at Exeter University. She taught Creative Writing at a local arts centre and for the Open University. Last century she won an Asham Award and a Jerwood/Arvon New Writing bursary and had stories in Virago and Serpent’s Tail anthologies and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. More recently she’s mainly written flash fiction with work published by Jellyfish Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Spelk, Ellipsis Zine, Bending Genres, Hobart and Flash Frontier among other places. She’s had flash included in Nothing Is As It Was (Retreat West), the three most recent National Flash Fiction Day anthologies (Sleep is a Beautiful Colour, Ripening and As We Pass Through) and short and longlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and published in Things Left and Found by the Side of the Road (Ad Hoc). She’s been a first reader for the Brighton Prize and The Nottingham Review. She tweets infrequently as @summerwriter.

SUBMISSIONS ARE NOW OPEN for this year's National Flash Fiction Day Anthology and Micro Fiction Competition. Submissions close on 15th February 2020. For more information, please visit our Anthology and Competition pages.  

 

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We love every piece we publish in the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology, but sadly we have to choose only a selection to nominate for awards.

Congratulations and good luck to this year's nominees!

Best Small Fictions

  • Behind Every Sign is a Story by James Burt
  • The Door by Vanessa Gebbie
  • Listening from the Outside by Lucy Goldring
  • Mum Tastes of Disappointment by Emily Devane
  • Safekeeping by Sarah Salway

Best Microfictions

  • Charlie Walker's Thirst by Nan Wigington
  • For You, I am by Alison Woodhouse
  • Great Sorrows are Mute by Gaynor Jones
  • Havasu Falls by Sara Hills

Pushcart Prize

  • Advent by Anne Summerfield
  • The Advent of Us by Mike Scott Thomson
  • Fire Escape by Rupert Dastur
  • For You, I am by Alison Woodhouse
  • The InterCity 125 from Weymouth by Jenny Woodhouse
  • Not her Child, Not Mine by Alison Powell