BackStory: Five Questions with Jane Lomas

Extensions to Redbourn Hill works circa 1918

BackStory: Five Questions with Jane Lomas
Author of A Pot of Usefulness

What inspired you to write ‘A Pot of Usefulness’?

I am currently carrying out research about Scunthorpe (the town where I was born and lived until I was eleven) for a novel I intend to write. The steel, iron and gas industries brought a huge influx of people to the town in the late 1800s and my own descendants were drawn there from the Lincolnshire countryside in 1881. The steel works were both provider and casual discarder of lives and in my flash piece I wanted to explore what would happen to a family once a man was no longer able to work.

What is your favourite part of the writing process?

My favourite part of writing is the rewriting and editing! My first drafts are rambling pieces that lack focus and are really only streams of consciousness. It is through rewriting that I discover what my theme is and what it is I am trying to say. My finished pieces usually bear little resemblance to the first draft.

What do you like most about writing flash?

Every word counts when writing flash fiction. I enjoy the challenge of shrinking my first rambling draft into a piece that flows, or possibly sings, with words carefully chosen to express what I am trying to say.

What do you think is the most challenging and/or rewarding aspect of writing historical flash?

The ‘show, don’t tell’ rule is more apt for flash writing than for anything else. You haven’t got the luxury of lengthy explanations to direct the reader to your piece’s time in history, so you have to transport them by using tiny descriptions, hints and glimpses to give a flavour of the time. It is incredibly challenging but, gosh, how rewarding.

How important is historical accuracy to you?

I try to be as historically accurate as I can but getting a sense of the time is more important to me. I love research and could go on forever – there has to be a point where I stop researching and start writing!

Jane has loved creating stories for as long as she can remember. Janet and John books were her first inspiration, followed by The Famous Five. Now she’s grown up, her heroes are authors rather than characters. Jane writes flash, short stories, and has been working on a novel for ever.  You can find her online at and on Twitter at @completelyjane.

Image of Redbourn Hill, Scunthorpe, circa 1919, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.