Tag Archives: Ad Hoc Fiction

Interview with Victoria Melekian, runner-up, Novella-in-Flash Award, 2018

    Victoria Melekian's novella-in-flash A Slow Boat to Finland was a runner-up in the 2018 Bath Novella-in-Flash Award judged by Meg Pokrass. Meg said of the novella, "We are not sure how a bereaved mother will recover after losing her toddler daughter in a car accident. Especially when the little girl's heart saves another child. The strong and convincing writing will pull you right into this story and make you want to know what happens next." Here Victoria tells us more about how she went about writing the novella, and gives tips to anyone who wants to embark on such a project. You can buy In the Debris Field the collection of three winning novellas-in-flash, which contains Victoria's novella, in several different currencies at the Ad Hoc Fiction Bookshop

    • What sparked off your marvellous novella in flash? Was it built around one or two flashes? Or had you imagined the whole story to begin with?

    Thank you for the "marvellous". Pretty much everything I write comes from ideas that have percolated a few years. Sometime ago I’d wondered about the notion of a grieving widow, an older woman, developing an inappropriate romantic attraction to the young man who received her deceased husband’s heart. I played around with it in my notebook and there the idea sat until I began thinking more about organ transplants and relationships between donor and recipient. I came up with the possibility of a mother becoming attached to a recipient child and the story expanded. So yes, I had the story imagined before beginning. At first I thought it could be a novel, but I’m a poet and just can’t go long.

    • Can you tell us how you compiled the novella? Writers seem to have different methods of choosing the order of flash fictions?

    When I began writing the story, I had one narrator, and I was trying to decide between first or third person. Neither sounded right. I went back to the snippets in my notebooks and saw that I’d originally written from all different points of view and used different tenses, and that’s when I realized that could be the way for me to create a novella-in-flash—just let the characters tell their parts of the story. I was afraid it would be a jangled mess, but I also had nothing but time to lose so I went for it. Once I let everyone speak, the arc presented itself organically. I rearranged the sequence several times and amended parts here and there to strengthen the story.

    • Following on from the last question, what was the most tricky part in writing it for you?

    Oh, my goodness, the hardest part was making sure each piece stood on its own. There’s a repetition factor, I think, that can’t be avoided, but that’s also what creates the beautiful musicality I hear in my head when I read novellas-in-flash. I tried to just let it flow where it wanted to go, kind of like throwing water on the floor and watching it spread.

    • Meg Pokrass said that A Slow Boat to Finland was one of the best titles that she read and it certainly suggests so much about lonely endurance after a tragedy. What are your own thoughts about the title you chose?

    I smiled when I read that comment about the title because honestly, endings and titles are the bane of my existence. Of course, my creation needed a title and, as usual, I had no idea what, so I read through the novella looking for something, anything that remotely could serve and that’s where I found “A Slow Boat to Finland.” It seemed to ring true. I smacked it on top of the manuscript, mentally shrugged, and hoped for the best. Maybe our subconscious knows best.

    • Were you influenced by any other writers who had written novellas or novels in this form?

    Influenced, I don’t think so. More so, I was encouraged that this was even possible. I read the wonderful My Very End of the Universe and, of course, the three beautiful novellas in How to Make a Window Snake. Seeing that there was no one way to write a novella-in-flash reassured me that I could approach mine however it wanted to be written.

    • What other writing projects have you got on the go at the moment? Would you write another novella-in-flash?

    I don’t have a project right now and I do miss knowing exactly what I’m going to work on each day. When I’m in between, I write poetry and flash fiction. I have a file on my computer desktop called “52 Somethings.” My goal is to make sure I write something I kind of like once a week.

    If I had the right idea, yes, I would write another novella-in-flash. It’s an exciting challenge and I wouldn’t mind doing it again.

    • What advice would you give to anyone embarking on a novella-in-flash for the next competition?

    Know that it’s a daunting endeavour, but quite possible. Trust your instincts and you’ll write something amazing.

    • When and where do you do your writing?

    There’s no certain when and where I write. Once I have an idea, things start popping into my head. If I have no paper, I make notes on my phone. Eventually it goes into my notebook and from there, into the computer. I write on my bed. On my couch. In my car. At work. Waiting for appointments. Oh, yes, and sometimes at my desk. When I made the decision to write the novella, I put all the notes, vignettes and snippets into my computer and began corralling them into separate flashes. Any day I had a substantial chunk of time to spend, I sat outside and worked at my patio table. If the neighbors and dogs were too loud, I plugged in my earbuds and listened to rain, rivers, ocean waves—whatever water I found on my free app. For some reason, it was easier to concentrate outside. It felt like a dedicated space.

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New Collection by Meg Pokrass

We're thrilled that Ad Hoc Fiction has published Meg Pokrass's new collection, Alligators at Night, the first book of hers published in the UK. Acclaimed US author Stuart Dybek says of her new collection:

The nuanced tonal complexity, which can go from the whimisical to a darker irony in the turn of a phrase, has been a signature feature of the work of Meg Pokrass. That complexity is in her new collection, Alligators at Night, heightened further by the fertile invention and unpredictable interplay of these beautifully crafted pieces

The title story was recently chosen for Wigleaf's best fifty stories of 2018 and another story in the collection, Barista was selected by Amy Hempel for Best Small Fictions, 2018.

Alligators at Night will be launched at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol, 20-22nd July where you will be able to hear Meg reading some of these brilliant stories and it is available to buy now worldwide in many different currencies from the Ad Hoc Fiction bookshop

Meg Pokrass is the author of four other collections of flash fiction, and one award-winning collection of prose poetry, Cellulose Pajamas which received the Bluelight Book Award in 2016. Her stories and poems have been widely published and anthologized in two Norton Anthologies: Flash Fiction International and the forthcoming New Microfiction and her novella-in-flash, Here Where We Live, is published in My Very End of the Universe the Rose Metal Press Guide to the form. Meg was the judge for the Bath Flash Fiction Award, Novella-in-Flash competition in 2017 and 2018. She is curator of Flash Fiction Festivals and editor of The New Flash Fiction Review She currently teaches on-line flash fiction workshops.

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How to Make a Window Snake
Wins at the Saboteur Awards 2018

We’re thrilled to announce that How to Make a Window Snake, the novella-in-flash by Charmaine Wilkerson and published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2017, won the best novella category in the prestigious Saboteur Awards 2018. Charmaine also won first prize with this novella in the inaugural novella-in-flash Award 2017, judged by Meg Pokrass. When Meg heard about the Saboteur results she remarked – “There was no question in my mind about this novella. Finding a gem like this was a gift.”
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Ad Hoc Fiction
Three Years Old this April
Come to Our Ad Hoc Birthday Event!

We’re having a birthday evening of readings 4th May, 7.30-9.30 pm at St James Wine Vaults, Bath... free entry, free wine and free cake. About nine of our winners, including three of our mulit-winners, are reading their fictions. Do come and support them. More details about this on our events page.

If you don’t already know about Ad Hoc Fiction, our free to enter weekly micro contest, here’s what you do:
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On Being an Adhoccer
S.B. Borgersen

Sue is one of a number of authors who submit to our free micro contest Ad Hoc Fiction every week. We really appreciate her support and it's marvellous to see what good use she has made of entering. It was our intention in launching Ad Hoc Fiction to encourage people to write more short-short fiction and to read other people's work. Sue is so inventive and dedicated with writing and sharing her pieces – an event where people called out numbers to select a story for her to read from her ever-growing collection, a scarf she has had made with the Ad Hoc stories printed on it, writing while in hospital and forming the 'Adhoccers' group.

  • You have entered Ad Hoc Fiction since the beginning – I am not sure if you were one of the seventeen writers who entered the very first contest, in April, 2015, but you have submitted  most weeks since. Can you tell us what you like about the competition?

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Ad Hoc Fiction Autumn Special
An opportunity to be published in the UK and US in a new high quality magazine

We're delighted to link up with new quality magazine Project Calm for an Ad Hoc Fiction Autumn Special, scheduled to open Wednesday 21st September. One winning Ad Hoc story and two runners up will be published in the second issue of the magazine which will have a focus on books and the love of reading.
project-calm
The ethos of Project Calm is one of creativity and mindfulness. This fits with our view of writing. To create very short fiction you need to be present and aware – paying careful attention to every word. It's often a meditative experience. Alison Wassell, who wrote the winning piece, Just a Crisp was recently interviewed by Once We Were Fiction about her method of writing. Ad Hoc Fiction involves writing a very short fiction to a given prompt word. Alison describes how she lets the prompt word float around in her mind, then “writes” very short stories in her head when she is walking to work at 7.00 am in the morning. She says “the walk takes about 40 minutes, which is plenty of time for 150 words.”

Though our special contest doesn't launch until Wednesday 21st September, we're happy to tell you that the prompt word will be 'CALM', so you've an extra week to let your ideas form. The three stories with the highest number of votes will be the ones chosen for the magazine. As usual, the winner will get a free entry to Bath Flash Fiction Award.

Issue Two of Project Calm will be published in the UK on the 24th November and sold in outlets including WH Smith, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose. In the US it will be published on the 24th December, available in Barnes & Noble among other places.

It's a wonderful and unmissable opportunity to be widely published around the world. Have a look at a digital sample of the now sold-out first issue. The Issue One focus is not on writing, but it is packed full of creative ideas.

And a video of Issue One can be viewed here on Facebook.

Project Calm can be contacted via Twitter @ProjectCalmMag and via their main Facebook page here.

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