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Interview: Hannah Daniell, NFFD 2019 Youth Winner

This month, we talk with first place winner Hannah Daniell about her winning story and her writing.

Flash Frontier: When did you first start writing – and what was the first piece you set down on paper?

Hannah Daniell: I first started writing, more specifically started writing poetry, at age two. I would dictate it to my mother, as at that age my penmanship skills were non-existent. However, the first proper piece I put down in my own writing was a poem when I was seven for a youth poetry competition.

FF: What about very short fiction – is it something you’ve always been interested in, or is new form for you?

HD: I will admit that I adore short fiction, at least when I’m the one writing it, primarily because it isn’t long fiction. I don’t have a long enough attention span to write more than a few hundred words at a time and struggle to complete any projects over a few thousand words. From the very beginning I’ve written short stories, although how short has varied quite a lot. Flash fiction is something I was introduced to a few years ago but never consciously put my mind to writing.

FF: What do you find so compelling about writing very short stories?

HD: It gives me an excuse to confuse my readers. When you write something three pages long and by the end of it the reader still doesn’t know the premise, they generally aren’t too pleased. But in flash fiction the reader has to fill in the blanks; they have to read between the lines and stretch their own imagination and no one’s going to tell me off for making them do so.

FF: What are the themes you like to explore in your writing – be it poetry, storytelling or nonfiction?

HD: I love exploring the emotional state of people in situations that are vastly different from mine, in both fiction and nonfiction. This is particularly pertinent in poetry, where the goal becomes to capture the emotional profile of a person over a length of time with revealing any relevant detail of their life, or to recreate their emotions without using any emotional words. In contrast my storytelling is a lot more lighthearted, normally being a slice of life of a person dealing with relatively mundane issues, normally just a vessel to write interesting dialogue and characters without having to think too hard about the plot.

FF: What do you like to read – and do you think what you read influences what you write?

HD: Absolutely. Although what I like to read is a very specific set of well written books that ask bigger questions about humanity and existence by focusing on the life of a seemingly normal person, and these books are in short supply. Therefore, a large quantity of what I read is fan fiction, or other self-published stories from amateur writers. And what I write is…. Fan fiction. And self-published short stories.

FF: What are you working on next? Are you continuing to write this year, in school or extra-curricularly? What other projects keep you busy (again, in school or outside of school)?

HD: I currently have a long term project I’m working on and of course I’ll have to keep writing for school. However, life (and school) continues to keep me busy, so I’m still waiting for more time and opportunities to write.

FF: And finally – a question we’ll ask all short-listed writers from the youth competition: If you could imagine a colour that best describes your 2019 NFFD story(stories), what would it be, and why?

HD: ‘No Need’ is the colour of a red brick wall in the dark. It feels like a bit of a cop-out to say that ‘Gummy Bears’ is gummy-bear-coloured…But it is. It’s the kind of muted primary colours, just transparent enough that you think you could almost see what’s behind it but you never can.

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