We’re delighted to publish a Q & A with Kathy Hoyle who won our 22nd Award, judged by Emily Devane The picture here shows the coastal town where Kathy was born and brought up, with rainbow. And her stories always offer such a range of colour, tone and depth. She’s had a great year writing-wise and summarises her successes below. We’re looking forward to seeing her first prize winning story in print in the seventh Bath Flash Fiction Award paperback Anthology, which is a little delayed, but out soon from adhocfiction and Amazon and to seeing her at the flash fiction festival weekend, 14th – 16th July 2023 where she will be offering another of her high-energy, inspiring workshops. Another photograph in this interview, shows her in full flow at the 2022 festival weekend.
Q & A
- We’re looking forward to seeing your story in print in the forthcoming Bath Flash Fiction Award Anthology, which contains winners, shortlisted and long listed writers from the three BFFA Awards of 2022. Can you tell us how your brilliant first prize winning story from the October Award ‘The Metamorphosis of Evaline Jackson’ came into being?
I have girls!
I think my daughters are a little fed up of me closely observing them all the time but I do find teenage girls utterly fascinating. I’m so impressed by the way they navigate their way through an often hostile world and how quickly they grow and change. As a mum, this is both bewildering and terrifying! I guess Evaline is my own fear, down on the page for all to see. What if things get out of control? what if something sinister happens? How might a young women deal with unwanted male attention? Can I ever protect them?
What started with an initial idea about a young girl blossoming into a beautiful, awe-inspiring creature eventually ended up becoming something rather dark, I’m afraid, which always seems to be the case with my writing! I guess my muse is a lot less jolly than I am.
You read this story beautifully at the November 2022 online flash fiction festival and, as well as the great story line I was struck by the sounds of it as you read it. Is musical language of particular interest to you when you write?
I have Matt Kendrick and his wonderful Beyond the Lightbulb- Lyrical Writing course to thank for that! Matt really made me stop and think about musicality, sound and rhythm in my writing, not just visual imagery and emotional resonance. This really elevated my writing and added a whole new layer to my work. I read everything aloud now and really enjoy playing with language and sound. With Evaline, I wanted to audibly capture that explosion of excitement the teenage boys were feeling when they saw her. I considered how one might write an uncontrollable urge, and the repetition of the ‘pop pop’ sound seemed to fit beautifully.
- We’re heading towards the end of 2022 fast and you have had a great year writing-wise. Can you give us a summary of your various successes and where we can read other stories of yours?
- I have to admit, this year was great one for me writing wise, I’m still pinching myself! It always feels slightly uncomfortable to talk about my successes because I still consider myself a student of writing, always reading, studying the craft and learning from some of the amazingly talented writers out there. But I admit I was utterly delighted to win the Bath Flash Fiction Award,
it really was a highlight for me and took quite a while to sink in.
Other competition wins this year include second prize at The Edinburgh Award for Flash Fiction and Second prize in the HISSAC competition. I had publications in Emerge Literary Journal, The Forge and Reflex Fiction. I was also delighted to receive nominations from Bath for Best Small fictions and also a Best Microfiction nomination from South Florida Poetry Journal for my story ‘Whale Song’ – my first ever nominations!
If you’d like to know more about my writing, I have a website – https://kathyhoyle.com
And I also spend way too much time on twitter @Kathyhoyle1 …but it’s such a lovely way to connect with other writers.
- You teach for Writers’ HQ and delivered an inspiring and lively face to face workshop at the Flash Fiction weekend festival in July, this year. What do you like about teaching? And have you any classes coming up soon in the New Year?
I’ve been incredibly lucky that Writers’ HQ have given me an almost free rein to build a wonderful flash community there. I host their Friday night Flash Face Off and also run some write-along workshops where I encourage writers to step out of their comfort zones!
We wanted to create a welcoming, fun, space for everyone to come and discover flash. Myself and the fabulous Jo Gatford (also a Bath first prize winner and all-round brilliant writer) co-wrote The Writers’ HQ Guide to Flash fiction Course and we now have many, many writers who are being published and winning prizes, some of whom just a year ago, had never written flash at all. It’s a real joy to see them flourish and to know that I might have played at least a small part in that.
There are a whole host of workshops, webinars and masterclasses running over at Writers HQ, many of which are free to join. It’s always lovely to welcome new people.
- I know you have also embarked on a Ph.D in creative writing this year. What is your focus for this degree?
I was delighted to win a scholarship from The University of Leicester that will allow me to work on a short story cycle that focusses on authentic voices from the North East. I’m a working-class writer, born and brought up in a coastal town, and I really love how oral storytelling was an integral part of my upbringing. My aim for the PhD is to somehow capture those authentic voices and stories, preserve them in fictional works and make them accessible to all.
- Have you any other writing projects on the go?
In my head, probably hundreds! In reality, the focus for the next year or so will be my short story collection, interspersed with flash – I will always write flash! And maybe one day I’ll write my Dolly Parton themed Novella-in-Flash!
- Your current top creative tip for writing a short flash fiction?
It sounds corny but honestly, write from the heart. Write what you know deep in the bones of you, write your fears, your passions, your joy, and don’t worry about what anybody else is doing, just be yourself. Don’t send your work out too early, craft your piece, write, edit, polish and keep doing that until it sparkles.