How did you interpret the word “Gifted”?
I took the meaning to be talented. That in turn led me to wonder about having a story about a character who has talent but is also horribly accident prone. It is clear she needs to find her true calling and without doing too much damage in the meantime. Her boss’s assistant is petrified of what my character can do but the boss finds uses for it.
My character is indeed gifted but not in the way she, or those closest to her, anticipated. The nice thing was this lent itself nicely to a humorous tale, which I always love writing. I love open themes like "gifted" because you can take something like this in so many different directions.
How did you find out about our call for submission?
By attending the Bridge House Publishing celebration event in London last year where the theme was announced. I then looked out for the submission date via the website. Having said that, knowing what the theme was so early did mean I could get drafting something earlier. I always appreciate things like that. Gave me more time to polish my draft up too before I had something ready to submit.
What are the merits for you of the short story form?
Short stories are wonderful forms in their own right. They capture moments. They give the pay-off so much more quickly than a novel can. They tell tales which, at best, would be a scene in a longer work and, just as likely, would not make it into a book at all.
I enjoy writing a mixture of flash fiction (1000 words or fewer) and short stories (1001 words plus). I like being able to write different genres in these forms. I’ve written humorous tales, crime ones, ghostly types, and have loved being able to “play” with writing in the first person and the third in the shorter form.
It’s always a joy submitting stories (and even a bigger one when they’re accepted). I love the challenge of continually coming up with interesting characters and situations. Keeps me on my writing toes!
Tell us a little about you as a writer?
As well as writing flash fiction/short stories, I blog regularly. I write weekly for online magazine, Chandler’s Ford Today, often on topics of interest to writers, and I often interview authors too. I blog for Authors Electric and More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers.
I write for and am part of the editorial team for Writers’ Narrative, which is written by writers for writers.
I also run flash fiction and editing workshops.
I was one of the winners of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition three years in a row. I was impressed with how the fifteen winners each year came up with such different stories when we were all writing to the same theme and word count.
I have had my flash stories broadcast on North Manchester FM on the Three Minutes Santa show hosted by Hannah Kate and often have 100-word stories published on Friday Flash Fiction.
Do you have any more forthcoming publications or events?
I have submitted my third flash fiction collection to Chapeltown Books and am happily drafting a fourth. I am taking part in Flash NANO again where, for the month of November, I am given thirty prompts, one a day, to respond to - am finding this fun and challenging as I did last year. I also love the whole idea of having thirty new stories to edit and polish after November! You are also encouraged to post on the Facebook page associated with this how you are doing and, if you wish, excerpts of your drafts. Great way to interact with other writers.
Am looking forward to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event in London in December. I hope to be back at The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick next year. In 2023 I ran a workshop there and am hoping to get to do that again.
Allison Symes, who loves reading and writing quirky fiction, is published by Chapeltown Books, CafeLit, and Bridge House Publishing. Her flash fiction collections, Tripping The Flash Fantastic and From Light to Dark and Back Again are out in Kindle and paperback.