Tuesday 29 August 2017

An Interview with Allison Symes

This is one of an occasional series of interviews with writers. I have known Allison for many years.  We hve attended several of the same conferences and when I still lived in Hampshire, we used to meet up regularly.

More recently s a publisher I've published her on CafeLit, in the Best of  CafeLit, and various Bridge House anthologies.I feel very privileged to have published her Flash Fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again.   


 What do you write? Why this in particular? 

I write flash fiction and focus on 100-word-tales. My first collection called From Light to Dark and Back Again was published by Chapeltown Books earlier in 2017. I have also been published online by Cafelit, Alfie Dog Fiction, Scriggler (US based) and Shortbread Short Stories.

I also blog regularly for Chandler’s Ford Today often on writing matters. I blog monthly for More Than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers’ blog and am the Membership Secretary.

I started writing flash fiction thanks to spotting Cafelit’s 100-word challenge and thought I’d try it. I quickly became addicted. I had written standard short stories (and still do) for competitions but flash soon became a huge favourite.

I was recommended by a friend to send material in for Chandler's Ford Today and quickly developed a love for writing non-fiction articles.

What got you started writing in the first place? 

 My love of reading, thanks to my late mother’s encouragement, led directly to me wanting to see if I could do it. Once I started writing I quickly became addicted! I also soon discovered the joy of writing conferences, such as Swanwick (part of the house and grounds shown below).

Do you have a particular routine? 

Yes. I mainly write in the evenings but I am as consistent as possible. I do write something most days. I am hoping to change things around soon and go as full-time as possible!

Do you have a dedicated writing space?

Yes. I have a desk, decent chair, my radio (tuned into Classic FM mainly but also Radio 4), and all stationery. I have my PC, printers, and lots of lovely pictures on the walls. I have mints and at least one drink to hand! My certificate for a short story from Winchester Writers’ Festival is framed and on the wall, alongside with pointed reminder (also framed) to “Don’t Ever Give Up on your Dreams”.

When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact? 

When I was published in print and then online regularly. I do refer to myself as a writer and plan to become as full time as possible soon. To date I’ve said I’m only part time. Time for change!

How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing? 

I’m really lucky here in that my family are supportive, as are my close friends. Not sure they understand the urge to write but I don't think it matters. What does matter is they accept it’s important for me.

What are you most proud of in your writing? 

My first acceptance in print, which was A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s anthology Alternative Renditions. My late mother, who taught me to read before I started school, saw this and was thrilled. Then getting to blog regularly for Chandler’s Ford Today and receiving good feedback on my posts. Being highly commended for a short story at Winchester Writers’ Festival.

Best of all was Chapeltown Books publishing my first flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again. My late father was delighted at this. (There is a nice kind of symmetry in one parent seeing my first published story and the other my first published book). Holding my first signing events, both virtual and physical. Looking forward to more to come!

How do you get on with editing and research?

 I always write first and edit later. I can't edit as I go. Also I see writing and editing as two separate tasks so like to do them separately. I always feel some relief when I’ve got the first draft written as I know I’ve then got something to work into shape. I research via books and the web. I try to have something specific to research as this means I’m less at risk of being distracted by all that lovely, fascinating material out there!

Do you have any advice for new writers? 

Says it all really! 

 Do you have any goals for the future?

 Yes. I'm writing the follow-up to From Light to Dark and Back Again. I hope to produce many flash fiction collections. I have scripts I want to rewrite and I hope to revamp my novel at some point. I hope to continue blogging but would also like to write articles for magazines in the future.

Which writers have inspired you? 

 I’m inspired by Jane Austen (irony), P.G. Wodehouse (sublime prose and wonderful humour) and Terry Pratchett (for proving fantasy can be funny and there is often satire in his work too). Latest Publication: From Light to Dark and Back Again published by Chapeltown Books (available in paperback and on Kindle).

Latest Publication:  From Light to Dark and Back Again published by Chapeltown Books (available in paperback and on Kindle).


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