BackStory: Five Questions with Sarah Smith

The Blockcutter

BackStory: Five Questions with Sarah Smith
Author of The Blockcutter

What inspired you to write this ‘The Blockcutter’?

My grandad, who worked as a blockcutter in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. The town was central to the linoleum industry for a large part of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Who are your favourite historical fiction writers and why?

Hilary Mantel, Sarah Waters and Pat Barker who all make their audience feel like they’re reading a contemporary story. History never gets in the way.

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

The Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow, 1969. I’d like a chance to solve the Bible John murders.

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of writing historical flash?

It’s really tempting to crowbar lots of historical details into a story. Especially if you’ve spent ages researching interesting information. Flash fiction forces you to pare down your writing and justify each word.

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

I need to believe that it could have happened, even if I know it didn’t.

Sarah Smith’s writing has been published in New Writing Scotland 30 & 34, 50GS, Leaf Books, Duality, Gilded Dirt and From Glasgow to Saturn. She has an MLitt (Distinction) in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and a New Writers Award (2019) from the Scottish Book Trust. She blogs at and tweets @truesarahsmith.

Photo provided by the author.