Mini-Interview with Diane Simmons

Why do you write flash? What makes it different for you?

I used to write short stories, but intrigued by flash, I took a flash course with Fish Publishing in 2011. I enjoyed it, but declared that I didn’t think flash was my thing. However, I had quite a few stories I’d written on the course and sent them out into the world. They did quite well, so encouraged, I started writing more. I now only ever write flash, finding it more fun to write than longer stories. I also enjoy writing flash fiction novellas and have one forthcoming from V Press in 2020.

What’s your writerly lifejacket: character or plot?

I think both really. But with flash, I suppose I tend to go more for plot. My longer stories used to be character led but I often didn’t know what the story was about. Writing flash has helped me improve my plotting skills and to write strong endings.

Writing style: Quick and messy or slow and precise?

I used to be a line a day kind of person, but now, after writing two collections, I’ve learnt to work faster.  Sometimes stories pour out of me and they are obviously the ones I like best, but often it can take days to even get a basic first draft. I usually work on my stories for weeks or months before I send them out anywhere, revisiting them several times a day.

What element or part of your “real life” do you think most influences your writing?

I very much draw on my own life, taking real experiences and playing ‘what if’ with them. I started writing my collection Finding a Way (Ad Hoc Fiction) after the death of my daughter, Laura, in 2015. The stories in the book are fictional, but many are inspired by events that happened to me or to friends or family. My flash novella, An Inheritance was inspired by finding out that my great-grandfather was a pawnbroker.

If you could recommend a few flash stories or writers, who/what would it be?

I am a co-director of National Flash Fiction Day and read a great deal of flash, so it would be difficult to pick out individual stories or writers. Instead, I’m going to mention two collections that I’ve particularly enjoyed recently: The Neverlands by Damhnait Monaghan (V. Press) and The Crazed Wind by Nod Gosh (Truth Serum Press).

What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?

My flash collection Finding a Way was published by Ad Hoc Fiction in February 2019 and went on to be shortlisted in the best short story collection category of The Saboteur Awards a couple of months later. For a collection from an indie press, it’s sold well and I’ve received some really lovely reviews in magazines such as Storygy and New Zealand’s takahē magazine. I’ve also had emails from readers saying how the book has helped them deal with their own grief, or to better understand what grieving people are going through. I would love if the book could reach a wider readership, for grief to be talked about more and for it to be better understood. But it’s difficult for books from indie publishers to get any press coverage which might help them reach a wider readership. 

BIO: DIANE SIMMONS studied creative writing with The Open University. She is a co-director of National Flash Fiction Day and a director of the UK Flash Fiction Festival. She has been a reader for the Bath Short Story Award, an editor for Flash Flood and has judged several flash competitions, including Flash 500 and NFFD Micro. Widely published and anthologised, she has been placed in numerous short story and flash competitions. Finding a Way, her flash collection on the theme of grief, was published by Ad Hoc Fiction in February 2019 and was shortlisted in the 2019 Saboteur Awards. Her flash fiction novella, An Inheritance, is forthcoming from V. Press.


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