Patrick Harkin was first published in 2012 with Not That I’m Bitter and has gone on to show he’s really not bitter, honest, with other stories. He judged for Ether’s 2013 “Journeys” competition and Raging Aardvarks 2014 Flash Fiction Anthology “Twisted Tales“.
The Title of the latest Flash you have written. Black Argo
What was your initial motivation or prompt to write this story? I’ve recently been reading up on transhumanism and I enjoy the malleability of the people in genre fiction, the ideas and implications of what it means to be human. Black Argo was an attempt to imagine capture that, a world in which evolution was something we had controlled, bottled, sold and inhaled. The protagonist, Caleb, has recently grown himself a set of gills and some fins, because he wants to move to a space station that’s kept perpetually flooded and inhabited primarily by fish-people. The gills are still new and a lot of the story is about grappling with the realities of a new body, a new environment and what those mean about him changing internally as well.
Is the character in your story a reoccurring character in your writing? No. But maybe he will be later.
What sort of message of feeling are you hoping you leave your audience with? That just because things are the way they are doesn’t mean they’re always the best way. Change can be scary, even if it’s the thing you want most in the world – but scary doesn’t stop it being positive.
What sort of stories do you normally write? (Is this story a break from your norm?) Short stories and the failed, half-formed carcasses of novels. I enjoy genre fiction – “proper literature” too, of course, but genre is just more fun – so most of what I write is a bit sci-fi, or a bit horror, or a bit something-else. Recently I’ve been writing interactive fiction.
Why is that? I really enjoy video games and the potential the medium has for telling stories in new and interesting ways.
What projects or new story lines do you have coming up in the near future? Currently I’m working on an interactive story, called The Special Collection, which is about a librarian who discovers something going on under the surface at the local university. Working in meaningful choices for the reader-player has been really hard! But I think the end result will be interesting.
Do you enter many competitions for flash fiction? Not as many as I should. I’m very protective of these little babies of mine.
Are you a member of a writing group – either online or a physical one? No, though I have some writer-friends and have been on the odd course. Very odd courses.
Do you think these groups help or hinder a writers journey? Why? Definitely help. The idea of the writer as a solitary genius who goes away for a year and comes back with full-blown perfection… maybe that works for some people, but I don’t think it works for most of us. Half of writing is collaboration, airing out ideas, getting new perspectives. What interests your audience? Which bits are they laughing at? When are they twigging the twist and is that when you WANT them twigging it? Writing in a vacuum is horribly lonely and counter-productive.
What encouragement or advice do you have for emerging writers of flash fiction? Get a group, get deadlines, get writing. This is personal, of course, but I find rules and restrictions actually HELP the writing process. So set yourself challenges – maybe it’s a certain number of words by a time limit, or a rule about how you construct the story.
How can others follow your journey? On Twitter (@OiHarkin) and on Ether Books. Soon to be on Inklewriter, a format for interactive fiction. Watch this space!