Tag Archives: Ad Hoc Fiction

Interview with Emma Neale, Third Prize Winner, October 2018

Emma Neale won third prize in the October 2018 round of Bath Flash Fiction Award with her densely evocative and powerful flash fiction, The Local Pool. Nuala O'Connor the judge for the October 2018 round said this about Emma's story.

I loved the elliptical nature of this flash, the reader is told just enough and the opening paragraph is a perfect blend of language and sense-memory. The story perfectly captures the confusion of adolescents dealing with large issues and does it at a remove that adds to the power of the piece.

In this interview Emma tells us more about the background to the story and shows how one event based in a small community in the past can, in the way it is written, give resonance to many larger concerns, also highly relevant today. So many layers in such a short piece. We very much like her advice to other writers about not rushing to a finished flash but rather leaving it for several weeks to 'marinate' so those deeper layers can emerge and then crucially, reading it aloud. Emma's story is now also available to read in print in Things Left And Found By The Side Of The Road our new anthology of flash fictions from the 2018 Awards and you can also read her story. Courtship which was commended in the Bridport Prize in their new anthology. We also look forward to reading Emma's new poetry collection, To The Occupant, forthcoming in 2019. It's fascinating to see where a writer works; there are so many interesting objects on Emma's wall, desk and door. And also we love the picture of her with the family rabbit which she sometimes pops out to see during a writing stint. Read in Full

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Ad Hoc Fiction author, Diane Simmons, on Radio Bristol

We are delighted that our publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction is publishing Diane Simmons' collection, Finding A Way, fifty one linked flash fictions which show one family's grieving journey over the three years following a devastating loss. Diane is widely published in anthologies and magazines and has been successful in many writing competitions. She is a member of the organising team for Flash Fiction Festivals, UK and is also a Co-Director of National Flash Fiction Day, UK. This Thursday, (November 15th) she read A Collection, the first story from her forthcoming book, on BBC Upload, the fantastic new evening magazine programme dedicated to showcasing local artists and writers, at Radio Bristol. Click here to listen. She comes in about 1.34 mins into the programme.

Radio Bristol have created a brilliantly simple system in Upload. All you need is a mobile phone to record and submit your creative works for possible inclusion on their programme which airs weekday evenings, from 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm. Jude was approached by the presenter, the dynamic Adam Crowther, who asked if she could suggest some local flash writers and it seemed a perfect opportunity for Diane to read one of her stories and talk a little about Finding A Way. Do listen. Diane often reads her fictions in the Flash Fiction Evenings Jude organises in Bath and she is pictured here at the Flash Fiction Festival in July, 2018, reading A Picnic in the Park, another story from her forthcoming collection. As always, she reads wonderfully here on the radio and in the interview with Adam after the reading, she talks more about her new collection and her writing. Do listen. Diane is currently putting the finishing touches to her book, which will be published in January and available for sale at bookshop.adhocfiction.com in several different currencies for world-wide sales. We are really looking forward to seeing it in print. More details soon!

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Meg Pokrass: Writing From the Inside Out

Writer, writing tutor and editor Meg Pokrass is well-known for her amazingly inventive prompts. And she uses them herself in her own writing. This is what she says about it --

When people ask me: how did you do that? How did you incorporate that prompt idea? (as though it is a magic trick) this is what I almost always wish to say:
The writer works from the inside out. They live with a feeling, such as loss, for example the loss of love (my favorite) and they use the prompt as a way to explore the feeling in new ways, to "process" it (if we're being new-agey about it). There is no "trick" it is just letting oneself see your own life differently by using different filters, or metaphors, or situations, and letting oneself feel sad once again, which admittedly sucks (when writing hard stuff, feeling the loss again by looking directly at it). But on the bright side, to express it in some creative way, can create a huge sense of relief.

For November Meg is posting a prompt a day based on her wonderful collection Alligators at Night, which was published this July by Ad Hoc Fiction and which is available from the Ad Hoc Fiction Bookshop. Meg is posting extracts or full stories from the collection and giving you ideas to inspire a story. A great way to write in inventive ways, build up a sequence of fictions and to whet your appetite to read the whole collection. Hop over to her website to take a look. Her illustrative pictures are prompts in themselves.
And just for an added bonus, here's Meg reading the title story from 'Alligators at Night', a flash that was chosen as one of Wigleaf magazine's list of top 50 stories in 2018.

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Award Round Up October 2018

This was our tenth award and we thank everyone who entered. Nine hundred and thirty four fictions from thirty-two different countries:

Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

Read in Full

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Deadline Fever

At Bath Flash Fiction, we love the buzz around the end of the Award on social media. We've never quite worked out the psychology around writers and deadlines, so if someone wants to try an explanation, let us know. For our Awards, the pattern is always the same, 80% of entries come in the last few weeks even though discounted entries are available in the Early Bird deals which end half way through the contest. Some people buy their Early Bird entries and submit much later but not that many. A very large number of writers enter on the final day. Those writers are members of the Last Minute Club. Last time we introduced a badge for them, pictured here. And there will be another one for avid collectors on Sunday 14th October, which is the last day for this award. K M Elkes, the winner of the June round told us he is an up-to the-wire kind of guy. He said he entered not long before midnight on the final day. Just the one story. Read in Full

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Nominations 2018-2019

We like to nominate winners' stories from the Bath Flash Fiction Awards and the Ad Hoc Fiction winners for yearly anthologies and awards. Authors nominated by us have done very well. This year,'Tying the Boats' by Amanda O'Callaghan, the first prize winner,from the June 2017 Award selected by judge Meg Pokrass was included in Best Small Fictions 2018 and The Hand That Weilds The Priest by first prize winner, Emily Devane, from the February 2017 Award, judged by Kathy Fish, was included in the long list out of thousands of submissions. 'Roll and Curl', by Ingrid Jendrzejewski first prize winner in the February 2016 round judged by Tania Hershman was longlisted for Best Small Fictions 2017 out of a similar number of submissions, as was 'White Matter' by Julianna Holland, which won third prize in the October 2016 round judged by Robert Vaughan. Henry Peplow's micro 'Zeus Falls to Earth', winner of Ad Hoc Fiction in June 2016 was also included in the Best Small Fictions 2017 longlist. Finally, we nominated Charmaine Wilkerson's novella-in-flash How to Make A Window Snake for the novella category in the Saboteur Awards 2018, and it won the Award.

This year, two new opportunities to nominate stories have arisen. 'The Best Microfiction 2019 anthology co-edited by Meg Pokrass and Gary Fincke for stories 400 words or fewer published in 2018 and the Best 50 Flash Fictions from Britain and Ireland 2018-2019 organised by TSS. We're also looking forward to nominating our winning authors again for Best Small Fictions 2019. See which stories we've currently nominated below. Read in Full

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Writers and Their Dogs

At Bath Flash Fiction, a few winners have mentioned their dogs in interviews with me after their wins. So as we near the end of the October 2018 round of Bath Flash Fiction Award, judged by Nuala 0'Connor, we're giving the winners' dogs a spotlight. Dogs are inspirational and we know several other dog-loving flash fiction writers, whose dogs are essential to their writing lives.

Molia Dumbleton's lovely dog, Huckle is pictured here  with Molia. Molia won third prize in the February 2018 round of Bath Flash Fiction Award judge by Tara L. Masih, with her flash 'Why Shit is Still Like This Around Here and Probably Always Will Be'  In my interview with her, I asked her if her dog was her muse. She said. "I think my only muse might be a deadline. Ha! But sadly, kind of true. I go for very, very long walks with my dog and those are pretty essential, just for energizing and de-cluttering the head." Read in Full

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Ad Hoc Fiction at the Free Verse Book Fair

Jude Higgins and Meg Pokrass will both be at the Poetry Society's Free Verse  the Poetry Book and Magazine Fair, organised by The Poetry Society, on Saturday 22nd September in Senate House, London 11.00 am - 4.00 pm Jude will be taking along all the books published by Ad Hoc Fiction. Meg will be there to sign her new collection Alligators at Night published in July this year. Come along and say hello. We've special book deals on all the anthologies listed below: Read in Full

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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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