Interview with Zahid Gamieldien, Second Prize Winner, October 2018 Award

Zahid won second prize with his powerful story The Coast.The October Award judge, Nuala 0’Connor, said this about Zahid’s flash fiction:

“A harrowing and moving flash that immerses the reader entirely in the body of the main character, a wonderful feat. The menace and atmosphere of this piece carry it along brilliantly. This writer loves language and consistently reaches high for the perfect word and/or phrase.

Zahid is also a scriptwriter and a short story writer and tells us that attention to language is something he thinks about in every form in which he writes. We’re looking forward to reading his forthcoming short story in Platypus Press, a UK based publisher. Zahid, who teaches creative writing in Sydney, also offers online editing and critiquing services on all forms. We greatly value the international reach of the Bath Flash Fiction Awards and how writers allude to world-wide issues in the fictions they submit. In the 2018 anthology which is out at the end of November, there are writers from nine or more countries from around the world, and Zahid is one of six authors in the book living in Australia. It’s great that flash writers in another country can easily use his editing services and as well as writing feedback, get a different cultural take on their work

  • Can you tell us how your flash fiction piece The Coast came into being?

    I’ll admit that The Coast turned out far darker than I’d anticipated it would. I should’ve seen it coming, though. When I was writing it, I was thinking of Australia’s brutal refugee policies, and I had in mind Cynthia Ozick’s brilliant, harrowing short story The Shawl.

  • Do you have any more flashes planned on this theme?
    Maybe more adjacent to this theme than on it.
  • You are also a screenwriter. Do you think the skills involved in creating a tight script are in any way related to writing flash fiction?
    Definitely. Both forms force you to write with clarity, brevity and precision, although flash fiction leaves more scope for poetry.
  • You teach creative writing in Sydney. What do you like most about teaching?
    What I like most about teaching is the experience of being in a room with a group of people who are all engaged with writing and literature. Plus, I like that a few writers have told me that when they write at home, they imagine me as a spectre who materialises to offer encouragement and criticism. Perhaps I like the idea that writers think my input has improved their craft; perhaps I’m just trying to figure out how to monetise my spectre’s labour.
  • Does your work as an editor include work on flash fiction? Can you tell us what services you offer for authors?
    I offer editing services for fiction of up to 20,000 words—including flash fiction, short stories and novel excerpts—and for screenplays of any length. There are two types of edits available: a feedback (structural) edit, which is appropriate for early draft work; and an in-depth (manuscript) edit, which is appropriate for final draft work.
  • What writing projects are you working on at the moment?
    • I recently finished writing a 10,000-word story that will be published as part of Platypus Press’s wonderful shorts series. I’m excited about that. I’m also working on a couple of screenplays and short stories, and a novel is somewhere on the horizon.
    • Where do you write? Outside/inside? Music on or off?
      I write inside, without music. It’s not quiet, though. Our cat is engaged in a blood feud with the neighbour’s cat, so she meows incessantly in her attempt to recruit me for the wars to come.
    • I think the ending sentence of your story is perfect, particularly the last four words. It’s a task that’s very hard in a short piece. Will you tell us your thoughts on making a good ending?

    That’s very kind of you. I don’t know that I can pin down what makes a good ending; however, I can tell you that it’s better to leave readers wanting more than to leave them wanting less.

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