It is with great pleasure that I welcome author Allison Symes back to the blog to chat about her books and all things writing. Thank you for your time today, Allison.
Many thanks, Val, for inviting me back on to your blog. I’m a flash fiction and short story writer and blogger and am basing my answers to your excellent questions around my flash fiction collections (From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic).
What inspired you to write your books?
I discovered flash fiction by accident. I’d been writing short stories (1500 to 2000) words for a while and CafeLit, an online magazine, issued a 100-word challenge. I gave it a go, became hooked on the flash format, and then when Chapeltown Books put a call out for single author collections, I realised I had enough material to respond to that call so I did! I also added in new material. I was thrilled when my book, From Light to Dark and Back Again, was accepted and naturally I wanted to follow it up so I did. I’ve also submitted my third collection and am waiting to hear on that.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
As I am writing so many stories for a collection, I am inventing characters all the time, which I love doing. I don’t have a particular favourite but there is something about each of the ones I create that intrigues me enough to want to write their stories up. I figure if I’m intrigued by them, others will be too.
What was the first story you had published?
My first short story in print was A Helping Hand which appeared in Alternative Renditions (Bridge House Publishing) in 2009. It was a re-telling of the Cinderella story but this time from the youngest stepsister’s viewpoint. Great fun to do. She had some harsh words for Cinders and the fairy godmother but then was surprised when the latter revealed Cinders had sent her to help the younger stepsister. I love stories like that.
Do you have another story planned or in progress? When can we expect to see that?
The good news I have submitted another collection to Chapeltown Books. I am already working on another. It will be a while before I hear back about my third collection but I am so glad to have got that sent in. I do write new stories every week and submit one to Friday Flash Fiction, a website, and I then use another new tale to go on my YouTube channel. So by tuning in to either or both of these, you can see new tales from me most weeks.
Who is your favourite author?
This question is a bit like being offered a chocolate. I know I’m not going to stop at one, Val! I would name my favourites as Jane Austen (love her irony), P.G. Wodehouse (so, so funny), and Terry Pratchett (again so funny and his characters are so well rounded).
What do you like to do when you’re not planning or writing your next book?
Away from writing, I enjoy swimming (which is useful given writing is a sedentary occupation) and walking my dog. I love reading and listening to music, especially classical.
When did you know you wanted to write flash fiction and what led you to putting collections together?
After discovering flash fiction by accident, I quickly found out it is a very addictive form. Firstly, I wrote 100 word stories. Then I wanted to see if I could write 50 word ones. Then I realised I could write across the spectrum so started writing 250, 500, and 750 word flashes.
Also on realising flash has to be character led and I have always loved inventing characters, well there was no looking back after that. Chapeltown Books put out a call for single author collections and I realised I had enough to send in so I did, also adding in new material.
I was so thrilled when From Light to Dark and Back Again was accepted and, later, equally thrilled when Tripping the Flash Fantastic was accepted. You never lose the buzz of holding a book with your name on the cover!
Do you write in other genres?
Yes. I write standard length short stories (usually around the 1500 to 2000 words mark) and I blog. I also write non-fiction articles for Chandler’s Ford Today, an online magazine, and a flash fiction column for Mom’s Favorite Reads, a US based online magazine. The latter regularly hits the top spot and/or very close to it in various Amazon rankings.
What do you like most about being an author?
I love seeing books with my name on the front cover. That’s always a special moment. I love meeting readers when out and about at events or when I’m running workshops. I just love inventing stories and getting feedback on them. It is like giving back to the wonderful world of literature which has given me so much. I like that aspect.
Do you have a specific routine for writing? Is there a special place or particular tool you use?
As I write a weekly column, I plan my writing around that. I aim to have that finished and scheduled fairly early on in the week before moving on to other blogging work and my flash fiction writing. I find deadlines useful. I do try to write most days though inevitably there are days when I get more done than others but I’ve learned over time to go with the flow here. I do find regular writing useful. I write in my office and I do love using Scrivener for my pieces.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Make other writer friends. You’ll be glad of the support they can give you and it is lovely to be able to give support back. Never be afraid to ask questions. If something seems too good to be true, it is, and also remember there are options out there for people.
As well as being published by the big publishing houses, do check out the independent presses, and self-publishing is a viable alternative.
Always seek advice from people like the Alliance of Independent Authors/Society of Authors before signing any contract. Do go to writing events whenever possible too - you can learn a lot from these as well as make new writing friends.
A huge thank you, Val, for inviting me back on to your blog. People can find out more about me at my website (see my author bio for details).
From Light to Dark and Back Again - A collection of very short stories to suit every mood.
Tripping The Flash Fantastic - A carefully crafted collection of story worlds.
Allison Symes is a multi-published flash fiction/short story writer, blogger, and editor. Her main focus is on short story/flash fiction collections for the independent press. She runs workshops on writing, especially for flash fiction (online and in person). She judges short story/flash fiction competitions too.
Allison Symes writes weekly for online magazine, Chandler’s Ford Today, on topics of interest to writers.
Allison also writes monthly for US-based online magazine, Mom’s Favorite Reads. She is the editor for their flash fiction/short story submissions and sets the flash fiction challenge.
Allison’s fiction has appeared in many anthologies over the years (CafeLit/Bridge House Publishing). She was one of the winners of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition three years in a row. Allison has two flash fiction collections out with Chapeltown Books. (From Light to Dark and Back Again – 2017. Tripping the Flash Fantastic – 2020). Allison has submitted her third collection.
Allison Symes is a member of the Society of Authors, Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, and Association of Christian Writers. To find out more do visit her website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com where she has a twice weekly blog and an author newsletter sign up page.
Allison Symes has an Amazon Author Central page where details can be found on her published works. This can be found at https://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent