With two weeks to go before the end of our 15th Award on June 7th, here's another fascinating interview in our winners' series, this time from Simon Cowdroy, second prize winning author in our February award judged by Santino Prinzi, to inspire all Last Minute Club writers. You can read Simon's wonderful story 'The Dissolution of Peter McCaffrey' here and it will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in our end of year anthology along with the other winners, shortlisted and longlisted writers from our 2020 Awards. Simon tells us more about his writing process and his influences which include other writers like Australian Clive James and also the landscape in which he lives, pictured here. We asked him about his striking use of language and think his comment that he strives to use 'imagery derived from finding a powerful and unexpected way to frame the words' is very good advice for others who want to write memorable flash. We also like his other tips at the end of this piece and his suggestion to 'write as if it is your last chance to do so'. It was great to meet Simon at the Flash Fiction Festival last year and hope that when we hold the festival again (fingers crossed for such events), he can come again all the way from Australia, and we can hear him read it. Read in Full
Particularly Complicated When The Snakes Show Up
by Simon Cowdroy
The mice slow them down.
During dry spells, I never spot the tiger or brown snakes as they slide away, slaloming through the sinewy grass of the paddock, keen to see the back of me.
Give us heavy spring rains, like this year, and the mice arrive in torrents, a scratching, squeaking, stinking tsunami. For the snakes, a bumper crop mercilessly devoured into increasingly torpid, bulging sheaths.
“Watch yourself.” Mum warns.
Dad finishes the arvo shift at three, gets home by quarter-past, a handful of workmates in disorderly tow.
At five, Benny, who is slurring the least, lights the barbie.
“Red-headed idiot using a Redhead match.” Dad says, and everyone laughs like they hadn’t heard it yesterday.
I’m on the shuttle run, beer fridge to back-yard, so I keep my boots on, the ground littered with discarded bottle tops, serrated edges that bite into your feet like fangs.
The charcoal infused choke of recently incinerated meat slides away on the breeze along with their mood. They sit in silence, half-drunk stubbies gripped in coal mine calloused hands, Dad with his head down so you can’t see the scales slide across his eyes, the flick of his tongue.
The brooding lingers until they call it a day and drift home.
Cleaning up means I don’t have to go inside, not be around when it kicks off. If mum says nothing the bruises won’t show and she can walk us to school tomorrow. My sister hides in her room, fearing: the knock, the cruelly gentle first touch, the venom that hardens her heart.
I load the empties into the bin and the clatter almost drowns out the first slap.
Still only dusk, so I jump the fence and head for the paddock, not caring where I put my feet.