BackStory: Six Questions with Mary Morrissy
Author of Iceblink
What inspired you to write ‘Iceblink’?
The life story of the protagonist, Fred Fleet, the lookout man on the Titanic, who killed himself aged 77.
Were there any interesting facts, details, or turns of phrase that didn’t quite make the final piece?
This originally started as a longer story which focused on Fleet’s life after the Titanic, and his suicide. When I stripped that away, it became this story, starker and more powerful, I think.
How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?
I researched the reports of the tribunal of investigation into the Titanic and used some of the evidence from it in the story. It seemed to me that Fleet was very aggressively and unfairly cross-examined as if he had failed, in some way. And his answers gave me the aggrieved tone of the narration.
What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?
My favourite part is rewriting/editing; my least favourite, originating. No matter how awful a first draft is, at least there’s something to work on
What do you like most about writing flash?
The discipline of starting bigger and seeing how much you can do without.
How important is historical accuracy to you in your own writing?
As I write historical novels, I think historical accuracy is important. My rule of thumb is where the facts are known you should be true to them. Where they’re not known – and historical fiction often looks to those on the margins, the bit players – you’re free to invent.
Mary Morrissy is the author of three novels, Mother of Pearl, The Pretender and The Rising of Bella Casey and two collections of stories, A Lazy Eye and most recently, Prosperity Drive. Her short fiction has been anthologised widely but she is new to flash. She lives in Cork, Ireland. You can find Mary online at marymorrissy.com.
Photograph of the RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912 by F. G. O. Stuart, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.