Interview With 3rd Place Runner Up - Alexis Wolfe
Firstly can I ask… is Alexis Wolfe your real name or have you used a Pseudonym because it’s so cool!?
Hello, Alexis Wolfe is my real name.
You won the Third Prize in our competition this year with your story Cane Life. What were you doing when you found out? How did you feel?
I found out during the Coronavirus lockdown so I was at home. I was a combination of very surprised and delighted.
Tell us a little about your story. Where did you get the idea to write this story?
The first scene I wrote for the story Cane Life came out of a writing exercise I did as part of a flash fiction workshop. The prompt was to write a flash including a significant object. This original flash fiction had a scene with an empty-nester mother finding her son’s white cane in her bag and deciding to use it. I felt this was a strong although rather perturbing image which stuck with me. Over time, my longer short story evolved from this scene which eventually became the ending to the story.
How do you approach the writing process? What advice do you have for other short story writers?
I tend to write in a notebook and then when I type up a story I am giving it a first edit because I might alter something or leave something I’ve handwritten out.
Sometimes a whole story pours out handwritten in a way that feels almost effortless and I just write it down. Other times it’s a struggle; I might write half a story, type that up, leave it for months and then come back and finish it when I get the inspiration. Usually I’ll re-read what I have so far, then try and write the missing part of the story again by hand.
But I don’t have a strict set process, it’s all experimental for me at the moment. I have many drafts of stories which haven’t worked out. I have lots of beginnings or notes on possible stories I’ve not got around to developing yet. Sometimes I might try to fashion a new story by braiding two old ones and seeing what happens. I have a folder of “cuts”, sections which got edited out of old pieces but that I still quite like and might use somewhere else, one day!
Some of our readers may not have read your story yet. Can you sum it up in a sentence or two? Tell us why they should go and read it now!
I guess it would be: A mother struggles with no longer being the centre of her son’s world.
Do you have any other short stories published elsewhere that our readers can check out?
Links to all my published writing can be found on my webpage, www.alexiswolfe.co.uk
Who is your writing inspiration?
Anyone who finishes writing their stories!
Do you have any writing heroes or favourite authors?
So many but first to spring to mind are Elizabeth Strout, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, Deborah Levy, Alice Munro, Niall Williams, Miranda July, Kevin Barry – because I’ve read stuff I’ve loved by all of these authors recently.
Who has influenced your writing the most?
Have you ever taken any courses in creative writing and if so are there any that you would recommend?
Yes, I’m a writing course addict. I think I take courses as a form of writing-avoidance!
Recent ones which I’ve found useful have been taught by KM Elkes, Kathy Fish, Meg Pokrass – details on their websites.
I’m mid-way through an excellent Novella-In-Flash course from Michael Loveday.
I’m also enrolled to do a short story workshop from Comma Press soon.
I’m definitely forgetting some of the classes I’ve taken. Most of my course taking has been online, there is so much out there. I’ve learnt something new in every class I’ve taken. Plus made some writing friends that I can exchange feedback with.
How has lockdown impacted your writing?
I’ve written less than usual, yes! The writing group I usually attend in person has continued to meet by Zoom though, which has been great.
Talk to us about your writing routine, what does an ordinary writing day look like for you?
Children leave for school, then I think about writing. Sometimes I sit down and do some writing. Sometimes it helps to leave the house and write in a café, I like white noise.
Any parting words of wisdom or encouragement for budding authors reading this?
My story that came third had been submitted to quite a few other places previously with no luck, so if you like your story then don’t give up on it.