Interview with Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up, Alison Thompson

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Alison Thompson lives and writes on the south coast of NSW Australia. She writes poetry and short stories and her work has appeared been published in several Australian literary journals. Alison is a founding member of the Kitchen Table Poets (which you can find on Facebook). Her poetry chapbook, Slow Skipping is published by PressPress (2008).

She won the Verandah Literary Prize in 2010 for her story, “My Baby Moonbird” and was shortlisted for a story in the 2016 Wildcare Tasmania Nature Writing prize. She is currently working on her first full-length story collection and is developing another story into a novella.

Author Website:

PressPress (chapbook publisher):

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Spring 2017 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Alison: I'd seen the competition in the past and read other shortlisted and winning stories and really like the diversity and excellence of the writing.

Also its great how you take the time to showcase the authors - its nice to see and hear a bit about inspiration behind the stories. Plus of course great to see the promotion of stories about women and the female experience.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, Her Daughters’ Fire?

Alison: This story is a little unusual for me as its from a perspective and culture very far from my own--and I'm conscious of not wishing to appropriate that. It arose after I saw a news grab many years ago showing a women who had had a similar experience-it was a very brief news piece but something about her distress and the sheer horror of it remained with me--really as something I didn't want to be reminded of as it felt very painful, especially as I was a young mother at the time. I didn't imagine ever writing it as a story but several days into a writing retreat I woke up early with the voice of the mother in my head and wrote the story in one sitting, a process that reduced me to tears. I've revised it of course but it is essentially as I feel it was told to me.

WOW:  It's a powerful story, you did a great job with it. I felt like I was there. What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?

Alison: I also write poetry and like the paring down process required in poetry and flash fiction--the distillation that occurs. Trying to get to bare essentials. Its especially a challenge in flash fiction to keep the narrative arc satisfying with such brevity.

WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Alison: Well, I drink a lot of tea and coffee! Best time is mornings and if possible, I like the whole house to myself as I prefer to write at the kitchen table. That doesn't always work out of course so I make do. Also I try to get away for occasional writing retreats--I find being out of my usual routines very helpful.

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Alison. Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Alison: I think firstly, know who you're sending it to and what kind of writing they like. If it's a contest or magazine see what they've chosen before. And check out the judges as well.

Also, if you're able to its worth getting your work edited or critiqued, or at least looked over by someone whose opinion you trust BEFORE sending it out. And pay attention to formatting requirements of individual competitions and typos!



WOW! Women On Writing now hosts two quarterly contests: one for fiction writers and one for nonfiction writers. We’ve hosted the flash fiction contest since 2006, and over the years, writers have asked us to open up an essay contest. So we are happy to add the essay contest to our offerings. We look forward to reading your work!

Click on the links below to jump to:

Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest

Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest


Sioux Roslawski said...

Marcia--Thanks for doing this interview.

Alison--Congratulations. I too find that changing up my routine--writing in a coffee shop, or during a writing marathon or at a retreat--DOES make a difference.

Good luck with your future writing endeavors...

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great interview, ladies!

Alison, your story was so powerful, and I'm glad you stepped out of your comfort zone and wrote this piece. It feels real, raw, and the voice is authentic. It's such a fantastic thing when you hear the voice of your character so strongly that you have to write it down.

Great advice on reading pervious winners' stories. It's important to find out if your writing is the right fit for a publication.

I also write all over the place, but I've yet to go on an organized writing retreat. It sounds awesome!

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