Q & A with Tim Craig, judge for 24th Award

Originally from Manchester, Tim Craig lives in London. A previous winner of the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction, his short-short fiction has placed or been commended four times in the Bath Flash Fiction Award and has also appeared in the Best Microfiction 2019 and 2022 anthologies. His debut collection Now You See Him was published in 2022 by AdHoc Fiction.

A big thank you to Tim for being our judge. Our small press, Ad Hoc Fiction was honoured to publish Tim’s fantastic debut collection, Now You See Him last June. You can read more about the book here in an interview we did with Tim prior to publication. Christopher Allen, of SmokeLong Quarterly wrote on the back cover:

‘Tim Craig is a master of microfiction. With enviable confidence, Craig spins the most varied, playful and poignant tales. The stories in this collection, most a single tight page of killer prose, all deserve revisiting again and again and again.’

In this post, we’ve included a picture of Tim reading his first third prize win ‘Northern Lights’, at the live launch of’ Things Left and Found At The Side Of The Road’ Bath Flash Fiction Anthology Vol 3 (2018).

Q & A

  • Your collection of flash fiction Now You See Him was published by Ad Hoc Fiction in June 2022.
    We’d love to hear highlights concerning your collection since publication.
    There have been so many: the mini-launch at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol; the local launch at one of my favourite bookshops in London; just the buzz I get from occasionally catching sight of the spine on my bookshelf – a mischievous cuckoo nestling among the collections of all the flash fiction writers I admire!
  • What did you learn about your fictions from putting your collection together?
    That they are darker than I thought they were. Certainly when they were all collected, I was surprised by a pervasive sense of melancholy. With hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised!
  • You have been a reader for both SmokeLong Quarterly and Janus literary and have judged several contests for short-short fiction. In fact, currently, you are also one of the judges for the NFFD micro contest (for stories 100 words and under). Any advice for writers from your experience as a reader of all lengths of flash fiction?
    For me, the stories which work best are those which place the characters front and centre, not the action (though action is nonetheless required). Particularly in such a confined space as flash, I find that too much ‘neatness’ of plot can feel very artificial.
  • Now You See Him, the title of your collection and also the title of one of your prize-winning stories for Bath, which I have linked here, does an excellent job of carrying a lot of weight for the story. You have some good advice for writing titles in the interview for NFFD also linked here.
    What about endings? Have your many years writing advertising copy helped you land a flash fiction story?
    Possibly, although most of my ads finished with a phone number! I tend to feel, when writing, the ending is almost a ‘test’ of the story. If it comes fairly naturally to me, it’s a sign the story has worked. If I’m struggling, it tells me that maybe I need to go back upstream to find out what’s causing the blockage.
  • Can you link us to some stories you have recently had published that aren’t in your collection?
    I’ve been a bit quiet since the collection came out, which I understand isn’t uncommon for writers. But a story which quite a few people seemed to enjoy was the micro Nails published in the Autumn ’22 edition of the mighty Gone Lawn Journal.
  • You have entered Bath Flash Fiction Award and been placed, long listed or short listed many times. Do you have a favourite?
    I still have a huge affection for ‘Northern Lights’, as I think it was the first story I entered into the competition – any competition – so when I learned it had placed third the shock was intense. Otherwise, probably ‘That’s all There Is, There Ain’t No More’ – also a third-placed story (clearly my speciality) – a meditation on the mystery of father-son relationships, expressed through the medium of the card game Cribbage!
  • And just to encourage others, do you have other entries to Bath, which didn’t get listed, that have gone on to be published elsewhere?
    I can’t quite be sure, but I think my story, ‘The Grand Finale,’ disappeared without trace in the BFFA (under a different title) but then went on to win the Bridport Prize the same year!

The 24th Award is open now (March 1st) and closes on Sunday June 4th.

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