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INTERVIEW WITH Yvonne Clarke, WINTER 2022 FLASH FICTION CONTEST Runner Up


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Bio: After working in both marketing and editorial arms of publishing, Yvonne worked as a teacher of academic EFL, mostly in the UK and for a short time in Indonesia. Her foray into flash fiction and short story writing coincided with the outbreak of the Covid pandemic which gave her more free time to devote to an unfulfilled passion for creative writing. As well as WOW, she has had work published by Reedsy, Oxford Flash Fiction, LISP (London Independent Story Prize) and Strands, amongst others. In Autumn 2021 she won the Glittery Literary long short story prize.

She was born in Chester, in north-west UK, but for the past twenty years has lived in another Roman city, Chichester in West Sussex, which combines the best of history, seaside and country and is an inspirational place for any writer to live. She enjoys cycling, travel, and is a dedicated supporter of animal welfare.

You can follow her on Twitter (@eflevie), Facebook or Instagram.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in our Winter 2022 Flash Fiction competition! What prompted you to enter the contest?

Yvonne: Well, I love the stories published by WOW; they inspire me to keep writing. I also love the WOW team’s upbeat mood, always giving words of encouragement to the writers who submit. I haven’t won yet, but will keep trying!

WOW: Thank you for the kind words about WOW. Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Split Loyalties?”

Yvonne: I think what first inspired me was the experience of bringing up my teenagers. I underestimated the conflicts that existed for them as they tried to juggle family loyalties with the pressures of their peer group, especially over such things as Christmas and birthday celebrations and family holidays. As they were becoming young adults, they were trying to find the right path for themselves, which sometimes resulted in misplaced loyalties. My story evolved as an ironic, and hopefully unlikely, take on those conflicts, and how impossible it can be to please everybody. At the end of the story, we never know who was really at fault for the accident--the mother or her daughter’s boyfriend.

WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. When and where do you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Yvonne: I can never force my writing, which is why I don’t impose a routine on myself. That said, I do try to write a little each morning, and if the creative juices aren’t flowing, I re-edit existing pieces. It’s amazing how much refining and polishing you can do!

I like to sit in the kitchen at the back of my house when I write. Gazing out at the garden and the birds really inspires me. Music is a distraction, even classical. Also, I cycle most days and often have to stop to note down (on my mobile) a new phrase that comes into my head--I’m sure it must be all the fresh air getting to my brain!

WOW: Can you tell us about your writing goals? What can we plan on seeing from you in the future?

Yvonne: I love writing flash, but over time I’ve found that more of my work is moving into the short story category, so I hope to continue along those lines. I don’t think I could ever deal with the stress of writing then having a full-blown novel rejected, but who knows?

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Yvonne. Before you go, do you have a favorite writing tip or piece of advice you can share?

Yvonne: At the risk of sounding repetitive, ALWAYS put your writing out of sight for at least a few days. When you come back to it, you’ll read it with fresh eyes and pick up on any typos.

I always go to ‘review’ and ‘read aloud,’ even though the computerized voice can’t convey emotion. I always make small improvements after I’ve listened. (Unfortunately, the same goes for when you see your work in print--vocational hazard!)

And finally, keep submitting your work to publishers and keep the rejections in perspective. When all is said and done, writing is subjective, and every judge will view your work differently.

****

For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.

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