BackStory: Five Questions with Christine Collinson
Author of A Piecer’s Tale
What inspired you to write “A Piecer’s Tale”?
It was inspired by Quarry Bank Mill in Styal where they have some working machinery. We also spent some time in the Apprentice House which stages recreations of apprentice life. One of the re-enactors suggested that my daughter, who was nine at the time, might have worked as a Piecer. So, afterwards, all of the conversations, sights and sounds came together to form the story idea.
What are your favourite pieces of historical flash, prose poetry or hybrid work? What do you like about them?
‘Terra Incognita’ by Sharon Telfer was the first standout piece which inspired me to aim high with my historical flash; so beautifully composed and poetic. More recently, ‘Tyn’ by K.B. Carle blew me away with its emotive power.
What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?
I write flash in different ways. Sometimes, rarely, the story just flows onto the page and then needs a bit of tweaking. Other times, I have an idea bubbling but can’t immediately find a way to form a story about it. Often these ideas are sparked by unusual historical sources: images/paintings, original documents, folk-tales and so on. Once I’ve got a working draft, I enjoy editing and honing the detail.
If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?
I’ve long been interested in seventeenth-century England. I remember being captivated by the Great Fire when recreating a diary at primary school. Years later, my undergraduate dissertation focused on a local Parliamentarian officer. So I would go back to (probably not survive) civil war, fire and plague!
How important is historical accuracy to you in your own writing?
I do aim for historical accuracy, but I’ll allow myself a small measure of uncertainty. If I tried to become an expert in everything before writing about it, I’d never get round to the writing! I do enjoy researching the details though — I want them to be accurate enough to light up the past for the reader.
Christine Collinson writes historical short fiction. She’s been long-listed in the Bath Flash Fiction Award and by Reflex Press. Her work’s also appeared in Ellipsis Zine, The Cabinet Of Heed and National Flash-Fiction Day. Find her on Twitter @collinson26.
Photo of Chase Cotton Mill by Lewis Hine; National Archives Identifier 523064.