Interview with 2nd Prize Winner, Elizabeth Pratt

 Elizabeth Pratt is a transplanted American who took root in the UK way back in the carefree 90’s. She lives happily in West Wales with her fella, a few cats, and an untamed vegetable garden. She’s enamoured with writing short stories and flash fiction of all genres, but has also just finished her first novel, Past Dominion. She won the HE Bates Award in 2018 and the Frome Festival Prize in 2020, and was shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition in 2021. She also writes as Elizabeth Ardith Aylward.

Where did you get the idea for your story? What came first, character or plot?

I usually start with a character that I think will be interesting, and I put them in a bad situation to see what happens. I thought of a young girl in a fading industry town, and the limited opportunities she’d have to find a brighter future. Then I gave her a weird friend who could help, and it took off from there.

What is your writing process?

I try to write every day, even if it’s just a long ramble or rant about life in general. I think it clears the spirit and gets ideas going, and often leads to odd turns of phrase or ideas that bring a character or situation to mind. I love to explore and try not to worry about the writing being choppy or chaotic because I can always come back and clean it up. The importan
t thing is to get the words down and tidy them up later. Much easier said than done, I know!

Pen and paper or straight to screen? 

It depends- if I’m scribbling hurried notes and fragments of ideas, then definitely just pencil and whatever paper is available. I have way too many notebooks half-full of ‘notions’ and observations awaiting attention. But when I really get to work, I need to use a laptop as it makes it easier to write quickly with some form of organisation. I do find I have to disconnect from the internet when writing - I have the attention span of a moth and get easily distracted!

Do you have any writing heroes or favourite authors?

I love to read just about any genre, so it’s hard to narrow it down but for short stories I love JD Salinger, Raymond Carver, Penelope Lively and Flannery O’Connor. They pack a lot of story into a short form, and their characters are wonderfully flawed and real.

Do you have any advice for other short story writers?

I always advise reading as much as possible. It’s important to get a sense of form and what makes a story work, and I think that comes to you subconsciously while you’re enjoying a story. Write what you’d like to read, and don’t be afraid to go where the story leads. Timed prompts, no matter how odd, often lead to wonderful, free-range ideas that can be built upon. Writing as regularly as you can also helps establish your ‘voice’ and can let you relax and make discoveries about your style.

Thank you for sharing your writing process with us, Elizabeth. 
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