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Q and A with Caroline Greene, Winner, 2022 Bath Novella-in-Flash Award.

Caroline Greene won our 2022 Novella-in-Flash Award in April this year with her wonderful Novella in Flash, Lessons at the Water’s Edge and the novella is now available on preorder from Ad Hoc Fiction at a 25% discount until publication on July 1st. We’re delighted Caroline’s novella will be launched at the Flash Fiction Festival 8th-10th July. The 2023 Novella-in-Flash Award will be open soon and Caroline has some great advice here for writing one. Scroll down the post of our judge Michelle Elvy’s report to find her interesting comments on this novella. It is a marvellous, absorbing read with many layers and we thoroughly recommend it. You can also hear Caroline talking about it next week on a panel about novellas-in-flash for National Flash Fiction Day New Zealand, 19th June.

      Q & A with Caroline Greene
    • Can you give us a brief synopsis of Lessons At the Water’s Edge?
      It’s the story of a young woman leaving difficulties at home and going to live in a different country. But it’s also the story of the family she goes to live with, and the changes she brings, from their point of view. There are new discoveries about identity, but there are also love stories that intertwine – the love for a place, for family, and an unrequited love too. And it’s about how language connects and moulds us, with ‘language lessons’ that thread through the whole.
    • What inspired you to write it? 
      This has been a very long time in gestation! Many, many years ago I wrote a short story called ‘The Father’, about a dedicated single father, bringing up two girls. It was inspired by a story by Natalia Ginzburg called ‘The Mother’, about an erratic single mother bringing up two boys. But I never really did anything with it. Then, a few years ago, when I discovered flash fiction, I wrote a couple of scenes based on my experience of living in Italy. I had an idea of combining elements of the short story with the flashes, but was very dithery and unconfident about it. Then when lockdown began and I started to get messages from Italian friends I just thought, now is the time to celebrate the experiences I had there and the people I met.
    • In her comments Michelle Elvy points out how the novella, which is set in a watery city (unnamed) flows like water and, she remarks that ‘the story lines glide, skim, sometimes sink below the surface and then emerge again.’ Were you aware of the elemental component of your writing, when you were structuring it?
      I love that Michelle picked this out. In a way it was the most subconscious outcome. On a conscious level, I tried to weave the three strands together in a loose way to convey how the various experiences and the different points of view informed each other. But the water imagery was doing this too.
    • What is the most challenging aspect about writing a novella in flash, in your experience?
      I would definitely avoid trying to think of the thing as a ‘whole’ from the start. That’s too daunting. Although I had a story, I only had a rough idea of how it would be put together, so I just wrote scenes in a random order and gradually a patchwork pattern emerged. The beauty of writing a novella in flash is that you can construct scenes individually and follow thoughts where they want to go, without trying to follow any strict linear structure or plot line. But it’s sometimes hard to be ruthless when you have a suspicion that a certain flash doesn’t work within the whole and so it needs to go.
    • What did you most enjoy about the process? 
      Once I’d thought that I could create a novella out of the early pieces I had, I absolutely loved the impetus it gave me for writing more. I loved living with the characters and I had fun with the language lessons. While life was strange, difficult and uncertain during lockdown, I also had this other world of the novella going on inside my head.
    • Have you any other flash fiction projects on the go? 
      Once I’d submitted the novella, I felt as though I’d never write anything ever again! But gradually ideas have crept back and I trust myself more now to follow them through.
    • Top tip for someone thinking of writing one? 
      Trust the process. Follow inklings and instincts. Eventually, it feels as though the separate flashes almost tell you where they are all going, and how they fit together.
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Audio book of Going Short, by Nancy Stohlman released 15th March!

We’re excited that Nancy Stohlman has released an audio book of her acclaimed craft guide book, Going Short, an invitation to Flash Fiction. Our small press, Ad Hoc Fiction published it in Autumn 2020 and it has won several awards. You can buy the print from ahocfiction.com bookshop or from Amazon, where you can add in the audio version for a small extra price.
Nancy has narrated the guide book herself, and we are really looking forward to listening to her. She is a wonderful presenter. We thougt it would be interesting to see what sort of impact the audio version made on writers from around the world, listening in different situations and in very different locations. We all know what a difference reading your own work out loud makes. For example, you discover the rhythm, you discover where you need to pause and breathe, you listen to the sound of words, whether the last sentence is the right one, whether the beginning has immediacy.

I (Jude) have asked several writers to see how listening to Nancy read the book might have a different impact on their work. They will report back in a couple of weeks to tell us. But any of you can join in. Just contact me on Jude (at) adhocfiction (dot) com if you are interested. You may be an experienced or beginner flash fiction writer. Currently if you are not subscribed to Audible, it’s possible acquire the book for a free thirty day trial. https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Going-Short-Audiobook/B09MFYX9YK

Writers taking part in the experiment so far are:

Finnian Burnett from Canada, who say they are going to listen while walking on a treadmill.

Cheryl Markosky from Nevis,the Carribean, who is going to find out, she says, if being in the tropics makes the experience of listening more vibrant and colourful as she lives in a permanent soundscape.

April Bradley from the US, who may be going on a long car journey while listening to the book;

Slawka G Scarso
, from Milan, Italy. I am not sure where she will be while listening. It could be out in the city, perhaps.

Me (Jude Higgins) who, while listening, is likely to be wandering down muddy country lanes near Bath UK, stopping to inspect primroses, celandines and other early spring flowers.

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5 Bath Flash Fiction Award Anthologies – the history

We’ve summarised some information about the five anthologies published since the first Bath Flash Fiction Award opened early in 2015.For those who remember, we had a different way of running the competition back then. We didn’t close the inaugural Award until we reached 1000 entries. Ambitous! This took a long time. The inaugural Award announcement was in October, 2015. We hadn’t thought of producing an anthology at that early stage.

We switched to a three times a year Award in 2016 and the first anthology produced by Ad Hoc Fiction, To Carry Her Home containing 145 fictions from the three rounds of the 2016 awards and some stories from 2015, came out in early 2017. Ad Hoc Fiction, published The Lobsters Run Free, an anthology from the three rounds of the 2017 Award at the end of that same year. In 2018, the third anthology. Things Left And Found at the Side of the Road was published, in 2019 The fourth anthology, With One Eye on the Cows and in 2020, Restore to Factory Settings. The title isn’t decided until after the last award but is always chosen from a title among the longlisted stories. And you still have a chance to enter before our last award for 2021 closes on October 10th. As usual,the anthology will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction at the end of the year.

We’ve published around 650 very short fictions in print, so far in these books. The anthologies are such good reads.
The fifty people who are longlisted in each award are offered publication and receive a free copy of the book, posted world wide. We’ve asked people to post pictures of the book in their locations when they arrive and have been sent amazing shots of the books posed with and without their authors. Here’s some starring With One Eye On The Cows.

Before the pandemic, each of the anthologies was launched in Bath and authors travelled a long way to join us with fun nights of readings, cake and celebrations. We often managed a joint launch with authors reading who were published in Flash Fiction Festival Anthologies Last year we had a very successful online launch. The added advantage being that writers from different countries were able to read.

John at Ad Hoc Fiction designs all the covers of the bookd and he works with a story title that inspires him from around 135 in the book. The title stories are usually the ones found at the end of the anthology, when it is published, although in 2018 Things Left and Found At the Side of the Road was the title of a first prize winner story by Jo Gatford from the UK and is the first story in the book. It sparked off ideas for a cover with an image based on the UK Highway Code. The design for the first anthology, To Carry Her Home was inspired by a very moving story by Christopher Allen. The plait design is a reference to the sister’s hair referred to in the story. The Lobsters Run Free was inspired by the story by writer Anna Geary Meyer from Germany. With One Eye on The Cows was inspired by the story of the same name by Annette Edwards Hill from Australia. Q & A with Annette Edwards-Hill, author of ‘With One Eye On The Cows’. Last year’s anthology Restore to Factory Settings was inspired by UK writer, J A Keogh’s story.

The anthologies are available from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop and from Amazon. We really looking forward to seeing all the stories from 2021 in print soon.

Jude Higgins
October 2021

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Triple Novella-in-Flash Launch!

We’re delighted to host a joint launch on Zoom of the three novellas-in-flash by North American writers, recently published or about to be published by by Ad Hoc Fiction Hope you can come on Saturday,14th August, 7.30 pm – 9.00 pm BST to hear about three very different examples of the form and listen to readings from the authors, all successful in the 2021 Bath Flash Fiction, Novella in Flash Award judged by Michelle Elvy.
As well as readings, there will be break-out groups for you to chat with flash fiction friends from around the world and a book giveaway of each of the titles. To get a link for the event, email our host Jude Higgins, representing Ad Hoc Fiction at jude{at}adhocfiction{dot}com. Read in Full

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