BackStory: Five Questions with Steve Campbell
Author of Senna
Were there any interesting facts, details, or turns of phrase that didn’t quite make the final version of ‘Senna’?
In an early draft of this flash, I split the narrative into three sections – the main character discovering motor racing with his father, the main character watching the Senna crash when estranged from his father, and then finally, watching motor racing with his own son. Each paragraph started with a phrase surrounding who was sitting on the sofa. I played around with this structure for a while it but I just couldn’t get it to work. And maybe it wasn’t supposed to.
What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?
Editing my drafts is the most painful part of the process, but also, in the end, the most rewarding. I usually start with a brain dump of an idea and then spend a lot of time chipping away at it, one word at a time. It can be a slow, draining process at times, but, by the end of it, I do feel like I’ve accomplished something. I envy anyone that can blurt out a piece of flash in one or two sittings. Most of my pieces take weeks or months to complete.
What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?
There’s a lot of myself within the main character. But then I tend to weave a lot of personal experiences into everything that I write. Senna was my childhood hero and I watched both of these races live. The latter had as much of an impact on me as the loss of a relative, and came at an age where it was hard to come to terms with the loss of someone who, although I didn’t really know him, I held in such high esteem. He was also someone who I thought was invincible, despite the dangers he faced each time he climbed into the car.
What do you like most about writing flash?
I have only been writing flash fiction for just over two years, so I’m still learning, but I enjoy creating something that can be read in a few minutes but (hopefully) last much longer with the reader.
How important is historical accuracy to you in your own writing?
I like the idea that stories can be handed down or passed around and then, with each re-telling, something can be embellished or introduced. As writers we do this all the time, consciously or not. For me, Senna was no different; I tried to stick to facts when re-telling his story but added my own embellishments, with the introduction of a complicated father/son relationship.
Photograph of replica of Senna’s helmet by Felipe Micaroni Lalli courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.