BackStory: Four Questions with Anne Summerfield
Author of Not a Rehearsal
How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?
The majority of the research I did was fact checking because I’m old enough to have lived through the 1980s. I was lucky to be able to go to a talk about Greenham at my local library while editing the story. This talk was how I found out about the Greenham Women Everywhere project and I’d encourage anyone interested to take a look at their website: http://greenhamwomeneverywhere.co.uk/ Their archive is just one of the plans afoot to celebrate 40th anniversary of the Greenham peace camp in 2021.
If you could live for one year in any historical period, when and where would it be, and why?
I had an ancestor with the same name as me living in the nineteenth century. (I have her dictionary from 1858 signed with spiky copperplate writing.) She ran a coal hauling company and three pubs at a time when single women were actively discouraged from working in business let alone being in charge. I’d like to spend time with her and see how she did it.
What do you like most about writing flash (or prose poetry, or hybrid work)?
I started out by writing poetry and the sort of flash that interests me most tends to work with language in a similar way, making every word earn its place and carry implications and more than one meaning. I love that concentration and intensity of words. The flexibility of flash as a form is also a source of delight to me as a reader and writer.
How important is historical accuracy to you in your own writing?
I aim for historical accuracy as it think it gives work a stronger sense of authenticity – plus readers are often very knowledgeable and quick to spot inaccuracies which can spoil a story for them. It does depend on the particular piece though. One of the first stories I wrote was set in a magic realist version of the past, so I played fast and loose with accuracy for that one!
Anne Summerfield writes short and long fiction and poetry. She has had work published in various journals, included Flash Frontier’s historical issue, and has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award twice. Anne was one of the judges for this year’s National Flash Fiction Day micro competition. She lives in Hampshire, England and tweets infrequently as @summerwriter.
Greenham Common banner by Thalia Campbell, 1980s, via of The Peace Museum.