- You’ve been writing since retirement after a long career in the medical profession and completed an MA in 2001 at Bath Spa University, but you’ve only been writing flash fiction for the past four years, since you were 87 years old.
Can you tell us how you got started and what you like about flash fiction?
We’re delighted that Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing Echoes in a Hollow Space, a novella-in-flash from Ruth Skrine, Ruth turned to writing fiction in 1999 when she retired from her long career in the medical profession. She completed an MA in Bath Spa University and since then has published several novels and a memoir. In 2017, at the age of 87, she began writing flash fiction inspired by Ad Hoc Fiction’s weekly micro contest and a writing class on flash fiction run by Jude Higgins. Many of her micros were published in the weekly Ad Hoc Fiction ebook, and her flash fictions have been published in And We Pass Through, the 2019 NFFD anthology; Flashfrontier and Free Flash Fiction. In this Q & A with Jude, Ruth tells us more about the inspiration for her book and in advice for the older writer at the end says:
All creative work is life-saving in old age. One is never too old
Echoes in a Hollow Space is available at a discount of 25% for the preorder period and will be published on 31st May. It is also available for pre-order as an ebook on kindle and will also be available to buy as a large print format paperback from Amazon at the end of May.
Q & A with Ruth
My previous writing, both fiction and for the medical press, has been criticized for explaining too much. I did not leave enough space for the readers imagination.After listening to a talk given by Jude Higgins and Alex Wilson on witing short fiction, I was excited by the idea of flash and the power of words when there are fewer of them. I learnt to think about the place to begin and end and about a ‘turn’ at some point in the story. I was also interested in the comparison of flash fiction and prose poetry.
- We’d love to hear how you arrived at the idea for Echoes in A Hollow Space your novella in flash?
For a few years I wrote weekly in response to the prompts provide by the Ad Hoc Fiction micro competition. To my surprise Annabel, the younger woman, grew from that writing. I had no idea about her until she emerged. If I wanted to know more about her, I wrote another flash. I also used my own experience of growing up in the forties, and of old age.
- What did you find most interesting in writing it?
When a word, sentence or paragraph is found to have more meaning and resonance than I had consciously put in as I wrote. It is difficult to use the unconscious ‘consciously’, but when I can allow it to happen the feeling is exhilarating.
- You’ve been a member of my on-going weekly flash fiction sessions both face to face in Bath and very regularly online since we’ve been in lockdown. Are there things you particularly enjoy about working in a group of writers?
It is always helpful to have feedback on a piece of writing, especially if the feedback is contradictory. Giving and receiving feedback is also helpful and it has developed my critical eye.
Not yet. But I am looking through old stories and may find some connecting link that could develop into a novella if I give it room in my head.
- Any advice for the older writer?
Write if you have any inclination. All creative work is lifesaving in old age. One is never too old.