After several months in the making, author and Winchester Writers Festival regular, Allison Symes’ book From Light To Dark and Back Again has hit the shelves. Mistress of dark flash fiction, Allison has created this wonderful collection of short stories – best described as adult fairy tales – and I am delighted to be interviewing her here about her writing journey. As a writing-hopeful, many years ago Allison nervously dipped her toe in the waters of the Winchester Writer’s Festival and I asked her What made you take the plunge and go to the Festival the very first time?
I’d been wondering about going a year before I actually went, dithered too long and lost the chance to go so was determined not to make that mistake again. I was a new writer then – I blog weekly for Chandler’s Ford Today, usually on writing themes and have interviewed authors, self publishers and those who run independent presses – and I dithered due to sheer nerves. You know the kind of thing – I’d look stupid etc. I went the following year, telling myself at worst I would learn from the courses. As it turned out, the warmth of the welcome at Winchester for all delegates was incredible.
Did you feel inspired? Yes. I always come away feeling invigorated by the courses because I know what I’ve learned I can apply to my stories and blogs.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? The short answer is by learning from my mistakes. The longer answer is I’ve written things “the wrong way round.” I started off trying to write a novel and then came to short stories. I started with fiction and have now branched into non-fiction. Most authors I’ve come across do things properly and start off with short stories before even trying to write something longer! Having said that I have learned a lot about how to write – and how not to – in both novel and short story writing. The irony is I now write flash fiction as well and Cafélit in particular feature some of my 100 word tales!
So what happened? I was getting nowhere with the novels so thought I really should try short stories again. This time I read up more on the craft side and then started applying the principles. Lo and behold I produced a short story. I was so pleased. But the real pleasure came when A Helping Hand became my first short story in print thanks to Bridge House Publishing putting it in their Alternative Renditions anthology. From that point there was no looking back.
What genre are your books and what draws you to it? I think urban fantasy/magical realism would cover most of my stories – I just love the idea of other worlds. I like the idea of having this whole new world, one that you’ve invented, and to be able to explore it. With fairytales you have the basic premise set down; you know there will be magic, there will be good and evil etc but you can then put your own stories on that template and create some wonderful new tales. I just can’t imagine NOT writing in this genre.
So Allison, tell us more about your first flash collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again. The title, for example…
The title reflects the mood range of the stories in the book. I write humorous flash fiction to borderline horror and some crime For the collection I thought it would be good to end the book on a lighter note so came back down the scale again so to speak. Some are funny, some are dark, some cross the two. Some are set in a magical world, others are based on ours.
Allison’s blog round-up can be found here: http://allisonsymesscollectedworks.wordpress.com