Interview with Sarah Henry
Bath Flash Commended


It is always interesting to find out what prompts a piece of fiction. In this short Q and A, Sarah Henry tells us more about this and her particular interest in writing flash fiction. Sailboats, her inaugural award commended piece, can be read here.
  • Can you tell us the story behind your commended piece – was it prompted by a word, a memory, a scene, a wish to write in a new way?

Sailboats was inspired by one of many happy hours spent with my dad. I wanted to capture the tension between an adult child’s desire for her father’s approval with the recognition that her choices are still her own.

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

Honestly, I appreciate flash fiction because I don’t think I have the attention span to write anything much longer. Most of my writing has been in this genre because I love the challenge of creating a full story in so little words. It’s like a puzzle in a way.

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

One story that has always stuck with me is Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I love the story behind why she wrote it, and the way she captures the boredom induced hysteria experienced by the heroine.

  • When and where do you do your writing?

I try to write whenever I have the time. Mostly in the summers, or on the weekends. Sometimes I get an idea and have to write it down before I go to bed or I can’t sleep.

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

I am always working on at least one piece of flash fiction. Eventually I would like to challenge myself by writing something larger – and also proving to myself that I can!

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

The best thing about flash fiction is that it can be short. So you can play around with ideas that wouldn’t necessarily have the shelf-life a longer piece of writing would require. The goal, I think, is to paint as quickly as possible a vivid picture for your reader, a short, little taste of something. I’m not sure that plot is always necessarily the main focus in flash fiction because you don’t have much time to develop it, and you want the reader to walk away feeling like they have some resolution. I like to stick to character pictures or vignettes, or focus in on one interesting moment.

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