Marty Sinclair is a writer from Glasgow. Last year he completed an M.A. in English Literature at the University of Glasgow – specialising in creative writing – and has since enjoyed an unexpected (by him) amount of publishing success. Next year he plans to travel, continue writing, and learn how to dance.
Marty’s flash fiction, Kessler’s Love , is one of the 13 chosen by a panel of judges to be included in the upcoming Twisted Tales Anthology, Published by Raging Aardvark Publishing. It was also chosen as the Readers Choice story and takes pride as the first in the anthology.
He has kindly agreed to be interviewed about his story and of his writing.
The Title of your Flash. This flash is called Kessler’s Love.
What was your initial motivation or prompt to write this story?
The idea for this story came to me during an angry walk in the rain, under a purple night sky; I had been spurned by a pretty blonde.
Is the character in your story a reoccurring character in your writing?
I think Kessler will be seen again, lurking in the background, up to his old tricks while someone else’s story unfolds.
What sort of message of feeling are you hoping you leave your audience with?
I would like the reader to be left with a kind of outraged disgust, and the urge to re-read it (which will amplify those feelings).
What sort of stories do you normally write? (Is this story a break from your norm?)
If I had to characterise my oeuvre thus far I would say dark, cerebral comedy with dabs of the surreal, melancholy and profane. I’d say that Kessler’s Love lacks the layered philosophical levity I try to imbue my longer works with. But it’s punchier!
Why is that?
It’s just a quick, simple story. I find that story ideas generally come as a nucleus. Some (most) require teasing out, growth, exploration and unfolding and rethinking and remoulding. This one didn’t, because of its simplicity. It’s so short for the same reason; anything more would have been too much.
What projects or new story lines do you have coming up in the near future?
I’m currently juggling work on three new short stories while desperately trying to complete a first draft of my novel. The one I’ll probably finish first is Delinquents; a flash after Kessler’s own heart (and possibly my entry to next year’s Twisted Tales contest).
Do you enter many competitions for flash fiction?
As many as possible (not just for flash fiction, but also for short stories, excerpts, script, memoir/travelogue, poetry – anything I come up with that I think is worth submitting). That was my approach at first, anyway. However, a lot of competitions stipulate that entries must not have been published previously. So, as my ratio of unpublished-to-published (finished) short pieces starts leaning towards the latter, I’ve found myself becoming more selective of what I enter. I keep a list of deadlines for upcoming competitions and publishing opportunities, compiled from Creative Scotland, Ideas Tap and Aerogramme Writers Studio. When I’ve finished a new piece, I’ll look around for the opportunities that seem most lucrative or prestigious and focus on those first. I’ve also discovered that there is a virtual infinity of creative writing competitions and calls for submissions out there. So I’m currently trying to teach myself to give a piece the time it needs, to go through a decent first draft and a series of edits and reworks, then to look at where I can submit it. That said, there’s always a few contests or calls that grab me with their theme, and immediately make me want to drop everything else and write something for them. So, it’s a tricky balancing act – which often results in trying to write three short stories and a novel simultaneously – but ultimately the most important thing is to be writing something as often as possible. Sorry, I know this isn’t the advice section yet.
Are you a member of a writing group – either online or a physical one?
I’m not an active member of any writing group at the moment, though I was involved in a few at uni, and I have some older stuff published in online writing communities. I would consider being part of such a group – say, one that met weekly – for the motivational boost it would give, to faff less and create more. But to me, writing is really a solitary pursuit. That’s why I like it so much.
Do you think these groups help or hinder a writers journey? Why?
As I said above, I think that they can definitely be useful for motivation – it will (in theory) make the prospective writer do at least the amount expected for participation, if not more. And I think that such groups can be very empowering for beginners, as long as the group is well-managed. The best weekly workshops I’ve attended used a three-stage system of critiquing one another’s works – I can’t remember its name – which went: first, points of praise; second, questions; third, constructive criticism. Sessions using this template are more encouraging for the inexperienced, introverted writer than just a free-for-all of comments, in my opinion. I had the very good fortune earlier this year to attend a week-long writer’s retreat at Chez Castillon, a magnificent house (which hosts countless creative courses through the year – look them up!) in the sleepy village of Castillon la Bataille, between Bordeaux and Bergerac. The combination of warm hosts, wise tutors and very talented fellow writers was immensely conducive to creative productivity; our individual and collective projects were shot through with the mutual excitement of being in an enchanting place, with a meaningful purpose. When it was over, I felt more energised and capable as a writer than I ever had before. So I guess that’s my counterpoint to the joy of writing as a solitary pursuit; being part of a good group can change everything.
What encouragement or advice do you have for emerging writers of flash fiction?
As soon as you get a good idea, pounce on it. If you’re free at that time to write, start writing it immediately. If not, record the idea in whatever way you can – scribble some notes, use a dictaphone, whatever – such that you’ll be able to make sense of it later. It’s a unique sadness, sitting there desperately trying to remember what that best-selling idea you had last night was, so don’t subject yourself to it. I’ve found as well that the words come quicker with the momentum of epiphany driving them, and that no matter how good your idea is, time WILL try to sour it in your head. So, pounce! Also, try to separate creating from editing, otherwise you’ll spend hours fine-tuning each line, only to find out later in the story that that whole passage – prettily written though it may be – has to go. I’m still trying – and very often failing – to do this.
These accounts aren’t very well maintained, I’ll admit – I pretty much just post whatever needs to go there for whatever competition then skulk away again – so it’s fairly old stuff and first drafts for the most part. I’ll see about uploading some more recent work, but in the meantime anyone wishing to follow my journey (perish the thought!) can do so through the life-sucking entity known as Facebook,