Vanessa Gebbie, Ash Chantler, and David Gaffney.
This being my first feature, I figured I would go home—home in two senses. Number one, I’m British. Number two, I’m a flash fiction writer. I put the two together and got five. Five wicked flash writers from the British Isles.
What does it mean to be British in the world? That’s not really the question I’m asking. An arbitrary land mass? A basket of accents? I don’t know. I’ve lived in the States for seven years now and the question I always get after ‘Are you Australian? is ‘Are you Kiwi?’ Then the question: ‘Why on earth did you move here?’
Speaking of movement, I hope this issue moves you in some way. It moved me. In fact, I am thrilled and giddy—these are five phenomenal writers, some of whom you should be very familiar with. They all share a passion for the condensed form—and they deliver here with some extraordinary flash prose. All of flash’s dexterity is on display in these pieces: from an 11 word story to one written in letters, these stories go high and low and everywhere in between. I thank these writers for their wonderful contributions.
Expect Brexit and Bounty bars, Tayto crisps and boy bands.
Featured Writer: David Swann
“I remember the exam in which I had to stop myself from reaching out and stroking the long, blonde hair of the girl in front. She’d recently washed it in apple-shampoo, and I was supposed to be writing about Bismarck, but all I could picture was naked people in orchards” – David Swann, ‘Call Me, Ishmael’
David Swann drops us into the shoes of exam hall invigilators, self-styled ‘street’ security, and Halloween-goers on wind-swept moors. The funny and surreal collide so perfectly in David Swann’s work. If you haven’t read any of his flash, you’re in for a treat. I’m jealous of you.
Featured Writer: Nuala O’Connor
“The scenery breaks against the train window, a tableau vivant of cloud-meringue and stippled grass and tree-hugged mansions. I would like a large house in a field, a place for me alone, with gates and a driveway; a people repeller.” – Nuala O’Connor, ‘Notes from a Train’
Nuala O’Connor, author of the acclaimed novel, Miss Emily, adds some Irish flair to the proceedings. Her stories “Notes from a Train” and “Touch” are ones to truly savor long after reading; the characters in these pieces yearn after real and imagined objects and places. As readers, we watch out the window.
“I have to say, I was not ready for the dreams that accompanied the flower. You must be the most disturbed person if you do not mind me making that observation. For the last three nights, while the flower was next to my bed, I dreamed of road-mending. And brick walls…” – Vanessa Gebbie, ‘Letters from the Correspondence of Katerina Liskova, Prague, 1933 onwards’.
Vanessa Gebbie needs no introduction. The author of several collections of short fiction and novels, most recently a book of flash, Vanessa’s work is always vibrant and innovative, and the story we’re featuring here leads by example. Told in a series of letters, this story unfolds in a delightfully strange way.
“His mum’s at church in her Sunday best and the heating’s on high and his dad’s sitting on the edge of the leather armchair and Alex is in the middle of the room, spinning round and spinning round, and all he’s wearing is a short hula skirt and a coconut bra…” – Ash Chantler, ‘Celebrations’
When Ash Chantler is not editing his journal Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, he’s whipping out little comic gems like the ones you’ll read here. What I love about Ash Chantler’s writing is his focus on the now, the moment. Ordinary lives and ordinary situations are illuminated brilliantly and hilariously in these pieces. Pop a choc in your mouth. Read. Try not to choke on the funny bits.
“She would pay for adverts for the soup in a trendy magazine where people like her ex-boyfriend with his fixie and his beard would see them, and his friends would say look at this cool idea - soup that says what it does not what it is!” — David Gaffney, ‘What It Does’
Acclaimed flash writer, Gaffney, gives us a couple of hundred words and that’s all we need. ‘Nuff said. Well, not ‘nuff said…I asked him for a bit of micro-fiction advice, as well, and here’s what he told me: “First, roll your story out as long and as thin as you possibly can. Then find out where it starts, zoom in, and make that part again, keeping all the discarded parts for stock. Next, find out where it ends and put that in the middle. Then write a final paragraph.”
Lastly, I would like to thank Ken Robidoux, ConPress EIC, and Meg Tuite, editor, for believing in me and for being such inspirational promoters of creative writing. You just know when something’s being done right, and Connotation Press is one of those things. Thanks also to Karen Stefano, former fiction editor, for her stellar editing these past two years; you carved out an awesome platform in this fiction section and now I get to enjoy it!