TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF – HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING? ANY PUBLICATIONS? do you have a daily writing routine?
I have been writing on and off for about five years. Mostly fiction and mostly long-form but also playing around with shorter stories, auto-fiction and essays. I tend to write in bursts; I spend a lot of time ‘writing’ in my head and then kind of spill it all out. I try to make sure I have two afternoons dedicated to writing every week but I often think I work better writing spontaneously. I guess it is a combination of ploughing away and catching it when I feel it. I hate talking about writing as if it’s some divine intervention though because really, it is just sitting down and getting on with it - but the first inspiration bit sometimes feels like magic.
SPECIFICALLY, TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR LONGLISTED STORY – THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT, THE WRITING OF IT...
This was one of those ‘sudden’ pieces. I sat and wrote it in an evening. I’d been thinking about it for a while and felt like I knew what I wanted to do and sat down and wrote it. It is very loosely based on the time I spent on a NICU ward with my daughter when she was born. I had been wanting to write about it for a while both as a creative project and as a kind of catharsis. NICU wards are such strange spaces - filled with so much dread and so much wonder at the same time.
NAME THREE SHORT STORY WRITERS YOU ESPECIALLY ADMIRE – WHY?
Sarah Hall is probably my go-to short story (and novel) writer. Her short stories blow my mind - especially the one recently shortlisted for the BBC Short Story prize. Her writing is sublime - I have such an intellectual but also visceral reaction to her short stories, almost like reading them isn’t enough, I feel like I need to ingest them in some way!
Ali Smith is another go-to for me, again for short story and novels. Her playfulness with language and form is always thrilling. Eley Williams is another whose engagement with the language itself is exciting and inspiring.
Carmen Maria Machedo’s short stories also have to be on my list - so unsettling and surprising, real genre and mind-bending work.
HOLLY FITZGERALD grew up in Norwich and now lives in Brighton with one man, a baby and too many books. She wrote privately for a while before enrolling on and recently completing the New Writing South Creative Writing course. She writes short stories, long fiction and non-fiction. Her main writing interests are pain, bodies and illness. The Galley Beggar Prize is the second writing competition she has entered - the first being as part of the 2015 Brighton Festival when she won the opportunity to talk with Ali Smith about her work with a few other writers over breakfast; this remains one of the best moments of her life, so far. She loves the word ‘soft’ but hates the word ‘pugilist’. She is currently writing a novel.