This month, we bid farewell to Sian Williams, who has been editor at Flash Frontier for two years. Her sharp eye and inimitable style and wit have helped make this journal what it is, and we will miss her greatly. She’s moving on to work on her current novel and grow the best kiwifruit in all of the North Island, so we wish her well. However, we also expect that this is not the last we’ll see of her round here. She’s a flasher at heart, after all.
We also welcome two new writers to our editorial staff. We’re pleased that Elizabeth Welsh will be taking Sian’s place as of 2014, and that Rachel J Fenton will take on the new role of Features Editor.
Haere rā, Sian, and welcome to Elizabeth and Rachel!
Looking back and looking forward with Sian Williams
FF: You’ve been editor at Flash Frontier since the journal began in January 2012. What have you enjoyed most about being an editor of flash fiction?
SW: I’ve really enjoyed promoting flash fiction in New Zealand where it’s comparatively little-known and introducing the genre to a new audience of readers and writers. It’s been a privilege to work with so many talented writers and assist them in making their work the best it can be. I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of writing a story for every issue. And, of course, it’s been wonderful working with you, Michelle!
FF: What have you learnt about flash from reading so many different writers engaged in this kind of short prose?
Just how diverse the genre can be; the myriad forms and limitless voices continually amaze me.
FF: Has your involvement with flash fiction changed your approach to writing?
Absolutely. I think I’m much harder on myself as a writer. I expect to achieve more in fewer words. I’d also like to think that my work has become more layered and multi-dimensional.
FF: And do you intend to keep writing flash after this, even as you turn your attention to your novel in 2014?
Yes, it’s a genre I feel quite passionate about and fits well with my busy, fragmented life.
FF: Finally, tell us a little about your literary goals in 2014, and what you’ll be doing post-Flash Frontier.
I’d like to finish the young adult novel I’ve been working on sporadically for the last few years (I need to finish it before I get completely bored with it), and also to do some more work for the educational market — I enjoy writing literacy aids and plays for children. Outside the literary world, I’ll be working in our kiwifruit orchard. We live in Kerikeri and are fortunate not have been affected (yet) by the vine-killing disease Psa which has decimated so much of the country’s kiwifruit, but we are busy grafting our vines to a more Psa-tolerant variety. I will also be spending a lot of time taking my children to sport!
Thank you, Sian, for this interview, and we wish you well!
Welcome to Elizabeth Welsh!
FF: Hello Elizabeth, and welcome! You’ve had a lot of experience writing both flash and poetry. And as an academic editor as well as editor of The Typewriter you’ve become experienced at reading other writers and editing their work. What is the most challenging thing about editing, and why do you do it, and love it?
EW: Both of my editorial roles – as academic editor and as editor of The Typewriter – are at heart about communication and celebrating great pieces of work that people have spent time and effort in producing. For me, editing is all about being the facilitator and connector-of-the-dots (!), which simultaneously offers much that is challenging in staying true to someone else’s vision of their creative work, but also so much reward when everything comes together and you have played a part in helping it come to fruition. It’s a great feeling and very humbling.
FF: What are your goals as an editor of flash in general, and what do you expect here at Flash Frontier?
EW: One of the goals very close to my heart is encouraging emerging writers, so I would love to bring this focus to Flash Frontier and generate further enthusiasm for those new to flash. I think it is such an enabling form in its brevity – it allows new writers to dip their toes into the waters of short fiction, try things out and experiment. I love reading each new issue of FF, so I know that there is a talented array of writers from all walks of life and experience awaiting me!
FF: What is it about flash that you enjoy most?
EW: I am a big fan of very spare, carefully considered writing, and flash is perfect for this sort of approach. Every word is considered, chipped away at and thoughtfully placed, all of which come together to create a stolen glimpse – because all flash feels like that intimate, sudden dunk in the deep end of the school pool. There are those gaps – we employ them a lot as children – between reading the words on the page and filling in the missing information; flash encourages these gaps – they are part of the fun. There is no passivity in flash – it’s vibrant and engaging and pulls you in/forward/around. In my opinion, the shorter, the briefer, the better.
FF: And finally, we’re curious about your views on New Zealand literature, and the direction you think both the short and long forms are taking. What’s exciting about the New Zealand novel, and what’s exciting about flash fiction in the larger literary landscape?
EW: Flash has really exploded onto the New Zealand literary landscape over the past couple of years, largely due to the efforts of Flash Frontier and participation in the worldwide National Flash Fiction Day. It is at a very exciting stage of development. A lot of flash writers in New Zealand also engage in other forms as well, and this fluid movement between differing forms is enabling and encouraging. In terms of both the New Zealand novel and flash fiction, the single most impressive aspect that I find exhilarating at present is the sheer multiplicity of voices, approaches and publishers – the embracing of difference.
In conversation with Rachel J Fenton
FF: Hello Rachel, and welcome to Flash Frontier‘s editorial team! Readers have come to know your stories here, and you’ve appeared in our Features pages as well. You tend to favour experimentation in your own work and embrace writers of many different forms and styles in your interviews at your blog, Snow Like Thought. Tell us about your inspirations.
I don’t usually like revealing what or who I’m currently reading as it feels like a voluntary lobotomy and I don’t want to give my ideas factory away, but I am fascinated by what informs other writers, what fuels their imaginations – I’m nosey, a good trait for a writer – and I read other writers’ work very closely, perhaps a little too closely at times, but all of the authors I’ve interviewed have responded generously to my intrusions into their work.
FF: And, finally, how will your own goals as a reader and writer impact your role as Features Editor? And can you give us a hint at some highlights scheduled for 2014?
It all boils down to story – does it engage me? This is the question I ask most of myself, from my own writing, and I’ll be asking most as Features Editor, and I think Flash Frontier readers will agree that the work of the prize-winning authors I’ve got lined up for features in 2014 demands a resounding Yes.
Thank you, Elizabeth and Rachel, for sharing with our readers here. Here’s to 2014!
Please see the December 2013 issue — underground — here.
And stay tuned for 2014. The February issue will be an international issue, themed one way. Submission details here.