Interview with Mark Ralph-Bowman
Bath Flash Prize Winner

Mark Ralph-Bowman

The winners in our inaugural award have written very different styles of flash fiction. Mark Ralph-Bowman’s piece, which you can read here, is all about dialogue. Mark, primarily a playwright and novelist, wanted to try a new form. More about this below in our short Q and A.
  • Can you tell us the story behind your winning/commended piece – was it prompted by a word, a memory, a scene, a wish to write in a new way?

The initial impetus was the desire to explore a new form. The starting point was my usual starting point for my writing – an image, a sense of something happening or being about to happen. In this case it was the idea of it going dark at an ordinary moment for no particular reason. And then wanting to jump into that moment to explore the possibility of life-enhancement.

  • What do you particularly like about the very short form? Have you been writing in this genre for long?

This is a new genre for me. In all writing I love the process of stripping away but in longer forms it’s quite genial. With flash fiction that process is like taking a serious diet – self-denial and painful hunger pangs to arrive at a new you.

  • Which short story writers have inspired you and what is it about their writing that appeals to you?

The first stories that stung my mind were Grimms Fairy Tales. Later on, I found William Trevor. Then Updike. Then Oates. But I enjoy vivid, visual storytelling.

  • When and where do you do your writing?

There’s no time or place. I think I’m pretty undisciplined.

  • What are your current writing projects? Have you further writing ambitions?

I’m working to finalise venues for a tour of my play “With You Always.” I’m writing a new play as part of the Oxford Playhouse Playmakers programme. And a novel is in its fifth or sixth – “this is definitely the last” – re-write.

  • We’d love to know your best tip for writing flash fiction.

See/hear something – then keep that focus very tight. But that’s probably what they all say.

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