BackStory: Four Questions with Claire Loader

Empty bowl

BackStory: Four Questions with Claire Loader
Author of Hunger

What inspired you to write ‘Hunger’?

I think like many people, I found myself during lockdown delving deeper into late night online rabbit holes than usual. One night I stumbled on a thread, which lead to an article, which lead to two hours reading about the horrors of famine. I have always been fascinated by the darker side of fairy tale origins, how stories change and warp over time. When I read Hansel and Gretel likely sprang from the Great Famine of 1315, I couldn’t help finding myself in the shoes of a mother, imagining the terrible reality that may have inspired it.

Who are your favourite historical fiction writers (flash or otherwise) and why?

I love historical fiction and it would be too hard to give an all-time favourite. My most recent favourite, however, would have to be The Convert by Stefan Hertsmans – a beautifully written tale of love in medieval Europe. I have a personal obsession with medieval Ireland and find myself often meandering through ruins wondering at their stories, wishing them to life. Hertsman’s story does just that, weaving his own journey through present day Europe with that of a young Christian noblewoman as he follows in her tragic footsteps.

If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?

I have long fantasised about seeing life in different ages, but the more I learn about the realities of some of my favourite periods, the more I think a distanced look as opposed to the actual experience would be preferable. According to Steven Pinker in his book A History of Violence, humanity as a whole is living in one of the most peaceful periods we have known and I’m not sure I would really be up to a year-long visit to the past! I would however love to slide back the curtain on some of the old monastic ruins and castles here in Ireland for a quick peek at their heyday, as long as I could quickly close it back again and return to the comforts of the present.

What do you like most about writing flash?

I love being able to open a vent in time, pluck out words and close it again, as if I had never been. With historical flash in particular, it feels sometimes like you are reaching back into your own psyche, the imprint of past lives, and reliving them on the page. It’s a wonderful thing to come out of the writing process feeling as if you have manipulated time.

Claire Loader is a New Zealand born writer and photographer now living in Galway, Ireland. Her work has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Déraciné Magazine, Splonk, Crannóg and Silver Apples. You can find Claire online at and on Twitter @msloader.

Detail of photograph ‘Afternoon’ of by Hans Isaacson via Unsplash. The original image has been cropped and modified to remove colour.