Mini-Interview with Christopher P. Mooney

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

Firstly, flash works for me as a reader because I don’t have as much time as I’d like to have, as I used to have, and flash allows me to still enjoy the escape of other people’s stories. As a writer, I enjoy flash because of how immediate it is; how much more accessible it can be compared with larger stories. I’ve found it to be a great way to improve the words I put on the page; to sketch characters, to create mini worlds, to develop plot lines.

And because it’s shorter doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier to write: crafting a complete story – a story with fully-fleshed characters, plot arcs, etc – in so few words is a difficult skill and it’s a skill that’s helped me to write more concisely, more effectively.

2. What’s your writerly life jacket: character or plot?

Ha! Great question! And difficult to answer, too. I’ll say characters because, personally, I love to get involved with and attached to carefully-crafted characters; their lives and loves, their struggles, their ambitions. As a reader, I’ll go a long way with an appealing and complex character, even if the plot he/she is involved with isn’t particularly interesting. When writing, character is vital, necessary, because it cannot be ignored. Character is what gives the story its voice.

3. Writing style: quick and messy or slow and precise?

Oh, damn. Can I say both? The contents of my notebooks and assorted scraps of paper are likely illegible to other people. My first drafts are often quick and therefore messy. I handwrite notes and first drafts in pencil. Then I type them, print them and – a true teacher! – edit with my ubiquitous red pen. My edits and subsequent drafts, on the contrary, are slow and precise. I take my time, agonising over every word on every line. This has developed over time to become a fixed process.

4. What element or part of your ‘real life’ do you think most influences your writing?

I thought long and hard about my answer to this question; about what to say and how to say it. I also thought about what I should omit, and why. Although I write mostly fiction – and, more specifically, mostly transgressive fiction – there is no doubt that several of my stories, or at least several elements of my stories, can reasonably be described as creative non-fiction. Life hasn’t been kind to me over the past thirteen months – it’s difficult and I often struggle – and the reasons for and effects of this have seeped into my writing. The plots, themes, characters, language and tone – even in pieces that are predominantly or entirely fictitious – have all been influenced by my life in the real world. In this sense, increasingly so, the person I am cannot be separated from the words and worlds I create.

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

I would recommend Gary Duncan’s You’re Not Supposed to Cry, which was published by Vagabond Voices in March 2017. I described it in a review at that time as ‘a flash fiction collection packed with quality’. It’s a terrific collection of flash fiction.

6. What story of yours do you wish got more recognition?

My debut single-author collection of short fiction, Whisky for Breakfast, was recently published by Bridge House Publishing. It’s the culmination of years of effort. I’m delighted to see the thirty-five stories out in the world and I hope they get some recognition. I’m convinced the story that opens the collection, The Grey Shamus, deserves to be recognised, arguably more than any of the others, as a successful piece of writing. It’s probably the story I’m most proud of.

Bio: Christopher P. Mooney was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1978. At various times in his life he has been a paperboy, a supermarket cashier, a shelf stacker, a barman, a cinema usher, a carpet-fitter’s labourer, a foreign-language assistant and a teacher. He currently lives and writes in someone else’s small flat near London. 

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