This week we talk to Mark O’Flynn about ‘Traces of Nuts’ which appears in Time, the latest Microlit anthology edited by Cassandra Atherton and published in 2018 by Spineless Wonders. In this interview, Mark  talks about his approach to writing microlit, what he is reading right now and his favourite time of year for putting pen to paper.

  1. Tell us about the inspiration behind your microlit for the Time anthology.

I wrote a sequence of poems about the subject of hanging. These were kind of idiosyncratic anecdotes all to do with capital punishment, historical and contemporary. These were initially inspired by a poem of Deb Westbury’s called ‘The Man They Couldn’t Hang.’ ‘Traces of Nuts’ was one of those.

2. When it comes to microlit, do you generally start wide and then cut down or do you always plan to write a particular piece as microlit?

I don’t think I do either. I just start, then stop when the story feels like it has reached a natural end. If cutting shrinks it even further that’s just part of the editing process. Form is not one of the critical factors in the first instance.

3.How do you balance reading time with writing time? And tell us about the book/s you are reading at the moment.

Finding that balance is always a struggle, one which fluctuates a lot.  I have found listening to talking books on the way to work a good way of utilising that time. It’s a different experience listening, rather than reading, and some books a made for this. One comprehends the story through a different lens, as it were, almost as a theatrical experience. Some people think this is childish, being read to like a baby, however I disagree. It is also a great way to re-read all those books you once thought you’d go back to and read again one day, but never do.

Recently I have enjoyed reading His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet, Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift as well as Joyce Carol Oates – and listening to Helen Garner True Stories.  Amazing.

4.What is your favourite season? Do you prefer to write in winter or summer and why?

I like the cold more than the heat. I prefer to write when I have an idea on the boil, no matter what season. If I waited for the weather to change then not much would get written, but I’d have a good tan. (Not).

MARK O’FLYNN‘s novel, The Last Days of Ava Langdon, was a finalist in the 2017 Miles Franklin Award. It has also been shortlisted for the Prime Ministers Literary Award for fiction, and is winner of the Voss Award 2017. His latest collection of poems is the chapbook Shared Breath (Hope Street Press, 2017).