BackStory: Five Questions with Mary-Jane Holmes
Author of Down the Long, Long Line
What inspired you to write ‘Down the Long, Long Line’?
This piece came from a writing prompt combined with research for a project looking at outstanding women from the North-East of England
Were there any interesting facts, details, or turns of phrase that didn’t quite make the final piece?
Oh gosh, so many that will hopefully make it into another flash!
How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?
I did quite a lot of research for this piece and was surprised at how strong the suffragette movement was in the north-east of England. There was an event called The Battle of Newcastle in 1909 when the Chancellor, David Lloyd George, visited the city and Suffragettes gathered to lobby him over votes, and protest at the force-feeding of women on hunger strike in prison. Lady Constance Lytton threw a stone at George’s car Attached to the stone was the message: “To Lloyd-George, Rebellion Against Tyranny is Obedience to God. Deeds, not Words”. There is a picture of Lytton being arrested. What an image of strength and defiance!
What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?
My favourite part of the writing process is when that moment presents itself of a sense of an emerging structure whether it be the forming of an emotional arc of a character, or a suggestion of some type of resolution. My least favourite part of the process is probably that moment of looking at the blank page or screen with an inkling of an idea but not quite the courage to start writing!
What do you like most about writing flash?
The discipline of the form calls for compression, concision and brevity and that is a challenge I like to work on. Flash is also such a flexible form; it can be weighted toward narrative, or be more poetic and there is lots of room for experimentation.
Mary-Jane has been published in such places as Mslexia, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Prole, The Tishman Review, The Lonely Crowd, Prole and Best Small Fictions Anthology 2016 and 2018. She is the winner of the 2018 Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition and 2017 Bridport Poetry Prize amongst others. @emjayinthedale www.mary-janeholmes
Illustration of Common Cod, Haddock, Whiting, Coal Fish, Ling, Holibut, Mackerel, and Smelt or Spirling from A history of the earth and animated nature (1820) by Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774), digitally enhanced. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).