Iona Winter:The highlight of NFFD 2017 was the entire experience! This was the first year Ōtepoti Dunedin held a regional event, and we had a fantastic time. The Dunedin Public Library, Dunedin City of Literature and writing community were all incredibly supportive, as was Michelle Elvy’s guidance. I’m totally up for doing it again in 2018.
Iona Winter: After writing a novel (aka a Creative Writing Masters thesis) and receiving a subsequent NZSA Mentorship, I figured out that I’m better at writing short fiction. That said, a great story emerged from the thesis and won the 2016 Headland Frontier Prize. I’ve written plenty of flash, some short stories, a few non-fiction essays, and regularly blog my poetry too. I love the idea of less being more and the creative ways stories can be structured. I’ve always been a bit left of centre and non-conformist; so flash appeals in other ways too – especially when educating people that it’s a very old form of writing with a fancy new name. Flash fiction parallels my Māori and Celtic whakapapa, and the traditional way tales used to be told – rich with metaphor, clever pacing and dramatic or understated pauses.
IW: Aroha underpins everything. I’m māmā to a beautiful tama who has always supplied an enormous amount of inspiration (he’s also an awesome musician). I’m kōtiro to the most supportive mum on the planet (who doubles as an excellent editor) and we laugh a lot. My whānau of close friends support and encourage me to continue writing (and applying for funding). I reference the world around me via all of my senses, and am deeply connected to whakapapa and wairua. Landscape, seasons, environment and people all influence my creative mahi, AND the whenua here in Otago is stunning – you should all come and visit.
Originally published in Ad Hoc Fiction ebook 2016
A murmuration of starlings forage over seed cakes I’ve hung from the tree.
Late winter hunger, urgent and competitive. Sleet has also flown in.
I recall how she slid from between my thighs. Emerging out of fertile depths into sterile light—a brush of moth wings on my face in the darkness.
We watch from the kitchen window, as their kin steal straw from inside the chicken coop. Somehow the birds manage to keep up a momentum between flurries. Food. Shelter.
People here shoot starlings. I can’t imagine being angry over these little thefts. I doubt they’ve ever listened to such vital songs.
“There. Can you hear it?” I ask my daughter.
She sits on the bench, eyes closed, head tilted, legs still.
“Yes Mum,” she whispers, “I’m up there on the branches too.”
I follow her finger outside, through horizontal rain, to the tree.
Ivy Alvarez: So many highlights! Being the Chair for the Auckland NFFD event, I loved hearing the fictioneers read their work, especially those from the student category. The announcement of the winners put quite a thrill in the room: Patrick Pink for sweeping his two categories in the Adult section, and Joy Tong for her amazing win and multiple commendations in the Youth section.
Behind-the-scenes, I felt strongly supported by this year’s cohort of dedicated, cheerful and efficient volunteers (Patrick Pink, Anita Arlov, Elizabeth Morton and Eileen Merriman), as well as the charming MC Rachael Naomi Heimann for her light guidance during the event, and the ever-gracious Vaughan Rapatahana for his Māori mihi and acknowledgement of Matariki, which gave the event a solid cultural foundation. I’m sure all who were gathered there that night were delighted to witness this celebration of compact creativity.
It was heartening to see it all come together.
IA: In the Venn diagram which holds poetry, prose poetry and flash fiction, I would stand hesitating in that shadowy area of all three circles. Poetry, yes. Prose poetry, yes. Flash fiction …maybe? Does having one published count?
Flash fiction is definitely appealing. If only my past self had known it would have this tidal wave of support in the future, I could have been writing it concurrently with my poetry even now.
Recently, I had both a review and an interview published, which is a little alarming. I wonder if I am straying too far.
Originally published in Takahē
Abide these shackles do I, how horse-teeth tears at me, its mane my bed.
The field needs me to till. Earth churns and turns. The beast is tired.
Wide-gaited for a wee thing. I say Gorse and he turns his head.
See? Gorse. Sometimes dense. How the cold wraps us both, like breath expired.
Mind it, Gorse, and he does. The sea comes and goes out of sight.
Rest for a water gulp. We plough. We furrow, shackle-heavy, blinkered view.
Find fences, rocks. Fairy skirts of lichen! Soon it be night.
Oppressed of sight, poor Gorse. We share apple bite, no harvest new,
complain naught, pointless as a mound. Indentured under reign,
the owner says, and I nod, click my tongue, mud covering me.
Brindi Joy: The whole evening, definitely! But having readings of flash fiction in Te Reo for the first time and also welcoming a whole contingent of Canterbury youth who placed on the long and short list for the NFFD competition.
BJ: I primarily write short stories that draw from the varied places I’ve once spent time or called home: Kentucky, Louisiana, Colorado, California, Iowa, Washington State, New Jersey. Each coast, each state, is deeply embedded in my memory and my short stories reflect that sense of the America I knew before moving to New Zealand eleven years ago. I dip my toe into flash fiction now and then and highly admire those writers who have a certain deftness in the form. I’ve worked as a travel writer and last year wrote and produced a short film that was adapted from one of my short stories.
BJ: I’m a fresh air junkie and love to be outside! Christchurch is a paradise for fresh air junkies as the coast, hills and harbours are right on our doorstep. I am now also quite fortunate to work in a role that, in part, supports other creative folk who want to help bring a bit a color, vibrancy and a general sense of get-togetherness to Christchurch. I love working with them and being inspired by their ardour and varied creativity.
Kids with hair like live wires jump from porch to sidewalk all day chanting StepOnACrackBreakYourMama’sBack. Their mama hangs a sign in the window: You gotta have FAITH.
Sara Dawn Johnson
Sara Dawn Johnson:We combined the Wellington Branch New Zealand Society of Authors bi-monthly meeting with this year’s NFFD event. It was wonderful meeting all the new writers and I hope they decide to join us at every meeting. I most enjoyed seeing one of our local flash authors decide to read her own work after hesitating to do so; the audience loved her excellent award-winning story.
SDJ:I am mostly working on long-form fiction but flash greatly appeals to me as a way to practise getting the words down concisely.
SDJ:I love photography, travel, my husband and two daughters and my cat named Mouse. We live on a sailboat in Wellington and just sticking my head out the hatch when the sun’s out makes my day.
Kathy Derrick:This year we ran a flash fiction workshop followed by readings from Northland flash fiction writers. The highlight has to be Vivian Thonger’s wonderfully creative workshop where, inspired by music from her band Ambients, she encouraged participants to step out of their comfort zone to produce wonderful snippets of writing.
KD:I love writing flash. It gives me the opportunity to be experimental with my writing and explore topics I might not explore otherwise. One piece of flash has developed into something much longer although most remain around the 250-300 word mark. Besides flash I tend to write novels – there’s very little in-between for me!
KD:Outside of NFFD I help organise NorthWrite events, I write, teach on the NorthTec Applied Writing Diploma and… well, that’s about it really. Besides creative writing, my adult children inspire me daily; I am in awe of all they achieve and the rich and full lives they lead. I think I need to take a leaf out of their book – acroyoga anyone?
The Ghost of my Father
Originally published in Flash Frontier
The ghost of my father arrived at sundown. He was hunched over, carrying on his back a book so huge that at first I thought it was a slab of concrete. As he came nearer I could see in black gothic lettering Lexicon of Theology scrawled across the cover.
I’d been shooting rabbits from my chair on the porch and put down the gun as he approached. I rose to greet him but he climbed the steps and walked on past me.
He stopped on the deck, offloaded his burden and opened it. From the middle pages gods of every religion oozed out and swarmed around him. I cowered against the wall. Subtle and shaky memories of my childhood snaked unbidden into my mind. My father tore a limb off the wisteria growing along the railing and thrashed at the gods. They backed away. He tottered towards me like a child, offering the branch. I reached out.
Then I saw his hand; gnarled and claw-like, fingernails long and crusted with years of shame. I reached instead for the shotgun, took aim and fired. The book shattered into a thousand tiny pieces and the gods spiralled away towards the heavens, lighting the sky in a glorious display of colour. My father toppled down the steps and dissolved into the night.
In the end, freeing him was easy.