BackStory: Five Questions with Philip Charter


BackStory: Five Questions with Philip Charter
Author of The anatomy of a hurdy-gurdy

What inspired you to write ‘The anatomy of a hurdy-gurdy’?

I had an idea about a musician who plays a hopelessly old-fashioned instrument and settled on the hurdy gurdy. As I started to write the piece it began to morph into something more real, so I decided to set it in a more appropriate time.

How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?

I did extensive research on the history of the instrument and watched countless videos on how it works (it’s quite complicated).

What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?

My favourite part is the struggle. It’s often necessary to set pieces aside or go for a walk to clarify things. I love the moment when a key part of the story becomes clear. My least favourite part of writing is overcoming the self-doubt and actually starting the piece.

What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?

I play the guitar and have occasionally used it to appear cooler than I really am. I’ve never had anyone break my arm for playing it though.

How important is historical accuracy to you in your own writing?

I think accuracy is important in many ways in fiction — time, place, events, technical details. It all helps break down the barrier between the reader and the story.

Philip Charter is a British writer who lives abroad. His work has been featured in Fictive Dream, Reflex Fiction, and The National Flash Fiction Day anthology among other publications. In 2018, his piece ‘Raft’ won the 2018 WOW fest Flash Fiction Prize and he released his debut short fiction collection, Foreign Voices. Find out more at

Line drawing of a hurdy-gurdy taken from Syntagma musicum (1614-1619), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.