We're delighted that Something Lost the brilliant novella-in-flash by Louise Watts which was specially commended in our 2020 Bath Flash Fiction Award is now available for pre-order with FREE worldwide shipping at Ad Hoc Fiction, our short-short fiction press. It will be released on November 9th. Read our 2020 judge, Michael Loveday's comments on Something Lost in his judge's report. The novella is the last of our series of novellas from the 2020 Novella-in-Flash Award up for pre-order and all of them will be released for sale on our bookshop and on Amazon by the end of the November.
We've quoted the synopsis from the back cover below. It's a great read and another excellent example of this exciting form.
Something lost is a novella about desire and unfulfilled potential. A young girl attempts to escape the drudgery of her life at home in books and a relationship with her alcoholic English teacher. Meanwhile her parents' marriage is coming apart and domestic responsibilities build up.
Something Lost seeks meanings in likely and unlikely places, poems, definitions, recipes, jokes, facts.
Read our interview with Louise below.
- What inspired you to write this novella and can you describe how you went about it?
I don’t think I was trying to write a novella at first. I was perhaps trying to write a novel, and failing. I started with lots of fragments, something that just seems to happen with my writing even if I attempt to do something more continuous and coherent, and then I began to put them together. I have been moving my fragments around like pieces of jigsaw or patchwork for some time: then I got to the point when I realised that more would be less. And stopped. And then refined and refined. Cutting out bits that I loved but weren’t the right tone, for instance. And the bits that were just too clever by half.
- We love your cover and that you supplied the photograph for the design. How did it come about?
Well, it involved standing on a chair in the garden trying to get everything in focus without falling off and landing on my volunteer model. It wasn't until I looked at the photos afterwards that I saw the daisies look like stars coming out of her head as she reads...
- The trickiest part for you of writing in this form and the most satisfying?
- I like the way the flash form allows you to go from pathos to bathos, from one kind of feeling to another without too much connective tissue. The tricky bit (for me) I think is creating enough progression and continuity to engage, without sacrificing the surprise and the discontinuities that the form allows for. I could get stuck in a series of moments of perception, easily. I love flash: it is naturally the way writing comes out of me. I find it much more challenging to provide a conventional narrative with an integrated point of view. What Virginia Woolf called the Mr Brown and Mrs Bennet approach: impossible.
- If you made a soundtrack for the novella, what songs/music would you choose?
- Impossible question! I think it might be a bit like those old recordings of Dudley Moore playing classical music – you think you’re getting a serious tune and then it’s undermined by a comic turn which then returns to pathos….?
- Have you been able to write this year during lockdown and if so are you working on a new project?
- More than ever. I’m very lucky that, so far, no one in my immediate family or circle has been unwell. I’ve had much more time now that I’m not driving back and forth to work, collecting and picking up children from school. But not just that – also the slight withdrawal from the world, I have found very helpful to creating meditative space. I’ve decided to take the time it has given as a gift. And it has helped us see just how precious time itself, here, now, is.
- A tip for a novella in flash newbie?
- Although I am a very private person and find it hard to share drafts, the feedback from several readers was so helpful – it helped me see things that I would not otherwise have seen. At the most fundamental level, that can give you confidence – I remember someone saying, ‘you’ve got a voice’ – and I was so pleased to hear that! I didn’t know I had one. And then in terms of the process itself – for me, it was about moving forward, not getting too stuck in eddying spirals of editing and rewriting and editing. I have learned to try to create forward momentum, to create enough material to give myself choices. Cutting away is easier than adding in, I think. And also: perhaps the thing you are writing about is not the thing you think you are writing about. But it can take time to see that.