Tag Archives: Meg Pokrass

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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November Flashathon
with Jude Higgins and Meg Pokrass

Sat. 25th November 
10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Free tea, coffee, biscuits.
Bring a packed lunch.

Trinity College
Stoke Hill
Stoke Bishop
Bristol
BS9 1JP

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November is the month of Nanowrimo – write a novel in the month of November – and for several years it has also been the month of Namicrowrimo (National Micro Writing Month). The goal is to write a flash fiction a day for the 30 days of November. In honour of this event, we’re holding an intensive flash fiction writing day. In the morning we’ll offer a series of prompts so you can complete several first drafts. In the afternoon, we’ll get you editing your pieces. If you’re a beginner come and try out the form, if you’re a flash fiction addict and have missed a few days of the November flash fiction challenge, this is a place to catch up. You’re sure to go away with at least six new micros.

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Flash Fiction ‘Noir’
Evening of Readings

Sat. 25th November 
7.30 pm – 9.30 pm
late bar, free snacks
St James' Wine Vaults
www.stjameswinevaults.co.uk
10 St James St
Bath
BA1 2TW
 

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A special November event in honour of NaMicroWrimo – National Micro Writing Month – where you’re challenged to write a flash each day for the month of November.

Now the nights are drawing in, come and listen to some darker-themed flash fictions. A variety of styles of short short fiction from two of our regulars Meg Pokrass and KM Elkes and four other guest readers – Damhnait Monaghan, Christopher Stanley, Jason Jackson and John Wheway. All writers will be reading for ten minutes each. There’s a break in the middle to buy drinks at the bar.

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Autumn Flash Friday

Friday 29th Sept. 
7.30 pm – 9.30 pm
late bar
free glass of wine
sweets and nibbles

St James' Wine Vaults
www.stjameswinevaults.co.uk
10 St James Street
Bath
BA1 2TW

FREE ENTRY  

 

Our founder, Jude Higgins, will be reading from her debut flash fiction pamphlet, The Chemist’s House, 13 flash fictions based on growing up in Mid-Wales. Published by V Press in June 2017.

Also reading – Meg Pokrass, Diane Simmons, Tino Prinzi, Conor Haughton and Alison Powell.

Come along, support Jude, and listen to some fabulous flash fiction. Everyone will read for ten minutes each with a twenty minute break half-way. We'd love to see you there.

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Meg Pokrass
Novella-in-Flash Award Judge

Meg PokrassAmerican writer, Meg Pokrass, is a flash fiction writer, poet and writing tutor. Her books include flash fiction collections, Bird Envy (2014), Damn Sure Right (Press 53 2011) and The Dog Looks Happy Upsidedown (forthcoming from Etruscan Press 2016) and an award-winning book of prose poetry Cellulose Pajamas (Blue Light Book Award Winner 2015). Among her many other publications, she has a flash-fiction novella and essay on the form in My Very End of the Universe, Five mini-novellas in flash and a Study of the Form published by Rose Metal Press. Meg recently moved from the United States to England. In addition to judging our new Flash Fiction Novella Award, you can often join her and others for an evening of flash fiction, booking here.
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June 2017 Judge’s Report
Meg Pokrass

I could not believe how many powerful stories I read in the long list of fifty stories. It was very difficult to select the short list of twenty and then to choose the winners. I noticed that many stories involved a longing for lost innocence, equilibrium, and trust—a feeling that seems to be with us so much these days as the world becomes an increasingly chaotic place. What sensitive, strong voices you all have.

First Prize
Tying the Boats In 164 words, the shortest on the long list, 'Tying the Boats' is an elegant, masterful piece in which every word is essential. The author makes brilliant use of metaphor, yet her touch is gentle. The power in this story involves what is not said, which leaves the reader on-edge. We can't help but identify with the main character, who we see is in emotional danger.
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May Flash Fiction Evening

Friday 26th May 
7.30 pm – 9.30 pm
late bar, free nibbles
St James' Wine Vaults
www.stjameswinevaults.co.uk
10 St James Street
Bath
BA1 2TW

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We've another great line-up of six flash fiction writers who will each read a selection of short fictions for ten minutes each. There's a break after the first three readers for drinks, nibbles and chats.

Reading this time, two of our regulars, Meg Pokrass and KM Elkes plus new to the reading series Joanna Campbell, John Holland and Tracy Fells. Jude Higgins organiser of the Bath Flash Fiction contests and of these events will also be reading.

Come to hear a huge variety of flash fiction. It's always a lot of fun. We'd love to see you there.

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Novella-in-Flash 2017 Winners

I was honoured to be asked to judge Bath Flash Fiction Award’s inaugural novella-in-flash contest. There were many strong novella entries making the competition fierce. It was fascinating to see the different way each writer approached this challenge!

One of the most important traits of the flash novella is in creating a sense of urgency that pulls the reader in quickly. This is achieved through pacing, stand-alone story strength, and the creation of unforeseeable dramatic tension. Ultimately, success relies on the crafting of an inventive, non-traditional narrative arc. The short nature of the novella-in-flash does not allow for much context or rumination. Instead, it relies on tragic urgency.
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Interview with Meg Pokrass
Flash Fiction Award Judge
March – June 2017

Meg Pokrass is a flash fiction writer, poet, writing tutor and Flash Fiction Editor and Curator at Great Jones Street. Her books include flash fiction collections, Bird Envy (2014), Damn Sure Right (Press 53 2011) and The Dog Looks Happy Upside Down (Etruscan Press 2016) and an award-winning book of prose poetry Cellulose Pajamas (Blue Light Book Award Winner 2015). Among her many other publications, she has a flash-fiction novella and essay on the form in My Very End of the Universe, Five novellas in flash and a Study of the Form published by Rose Metal Press. Meg has recently moved from the United States to England.
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