BackStory: Five Questions with Lee Hamblin

New York in the late 1980s

BackStory: Five Questions with Lee Hamblin
Author of Red Eye

What inspired you to write this piece?
‘Red Eye’ is the story of a young man I knew well. He was 23 and had just ended a relationship. Happenstance intervened, and an opportunity to get away for a few weeks appeared. He grasped it, and I hope I’ve captured some of the incredible energy, place and time of New York City in 1989 in the telling of the story.

Who are your favourite historical fiction writers (flash or otherwise) and why?
I love historical fiction, writing offers an insight into the unknown or untold, maybe showing a truer truth: Khaled Hosseini, Toni Morrison, Peter Ackroyd, Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, Arundhati Roy, Tracey Chevalier, Sarah Perry. I’ve just read Colson Whitehead’s ‘The Underground Railroad,’ which is wonderful, and Paul McVeigh’s ‘The Good Son’ was a delight. I’m also a fan of historical works that would have been contemporary at the time of writing: F Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories, Dashiell Hammett’s shorts.

I love that in historical flash a moment in history can be brought to the personal, and how profound a moment can be, like in Ingrid Jendrzejewski’s ‘Freefall is a Compound Word,’ and I’m really enjoying Sophie van Llewyn’s social/political flashes set in Romania.

What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?
I have been writing Flash Fiction/ Short Stories for about four years. ‘Red Eye,’ was one of the quickest pieces to emerge onto the page. Generally I’m very slow and don’t really dash out a first draft and rewrite. I used to produce and write music, and would love how one note, chord, or sound would suddenly inspire another, and another and somehow it would become a song as if by magic. It’s the same with writing, one word, then another and so on. I’ll start with a thought, an idea, a seed, and see where it takes me, sometimes to a dead end, but sometimes not. I’ll also edit as I go. I’ll re-read the piece from the beginning over and over, and if something irks me, I have to deal with it there and then before moving on.

The best thing is looking over the previous day’s work and thinking ‘Yes,’ this is good/ has potential.

Least favourite? None really, except maybe when nothing comes, but that’s all part of the process.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?
Well… let’s just say read everything as fiction, unless told otherwise, and then the reader can decide.

If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?
Hmm… 1964, The Van Gelder Recording Studio, New Jersey – working as chief recording engineer, capturing some of the finest musicians/ recordings ever – John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard…

Lee Hamblin is from the UK. He is a yoga teacher living in Greece. He’s had stories published in MoonPark Review, Reflex, Blue Fifth Review, Ellipsis, Fictive Dream, Flash Frontier, Spelk, F(r)online, STORGY. He tweets @kali_thea and puts links to his stories and other words here:

Image used with permission of the photographer.