Interview with Victoria Mascord: Spring 2022 Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up

Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Victoria’s Bio:
Victoria squeezes in writing flash fiction around her busy London legal career, rushing around meeting court filing and writing competition deadlines alike. When she is not litigating or writing, she enjoys collaborative story-telling through the medium of table-top role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Call of Cthulhu. If she still has any spare time after that, then she will be dancing or sewing. 

If you haven't done so already, check out Victoria's award-winning story "At Night She Dances" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Spring 2022 Flash Fiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this story? 

Victoria: Belly dancing, or more accurately "raqs sharqi" (dance of the East) as it would be called in Egypt, has long been a passion of mine, having danced on or off for over a decade including professionally. I was very excited to show the reader how the dance is performed and viewed in its original cultural context and the somewhat contradictory attitudes held towards it and how dancers have to navigate these. In writing this, I was able to draw upon my own personal experiences in Egypt having witnessed dance in different contexts (from five-star hotels to downtown cabarets behind unmarked doors down alleyways) and also the experiences of native and foreign dancers working there. In particular, I wanted to make sure that the dancer in the story was very much the subject rather than the object. So, as with anyone that has a special interest or hobby, I couldn't wait to tell someone all about it! 

WOW: I love to see such passion brought into a piece of flash! What did you learn about yourself or your writing while crafting this piece? 

Victoria: On this occasion, I experimented with using an episodic structure with different time-stamps and locations, something that a lot of articles about writing flash fiction would perhaps caution against. The result was almost like mini-flash within flash fiction. What I took away from this is that there are no rules to flash fiction and in fact, due to its brevity, it is perhaps an ideal format in which to experiment as the stakes in terms of investment of time and effort are relatively low compared to a longer piece of writing. 

WOW: It is so useful to hear your approach to flash writing and you’ve made it work for you. Thank you for sharing your process! Please tell us more about collaborative storytelling. How does that process inform your flash fiction writing, or vice versa? 

Victoria: So, I play tabletop role playing games such as the classic Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu. I think with the huge success of Stranger Things more people will have some understanding of what D&D involves but essentially one player is the dungeon master, who will have responsibility for setting a scenario (for example, exploring an ancient tomb) and the players react to the scenario by describing or acting out what their character would do, turn by turn. An element of chance is introduced by using dice rolls; this is the game aspect. Most of the time, you come to the table with a character concept and a backstory for your character. This could be their whole life story or whatever they were doing immediately before the in-game scenario. Sometimes you may play a one-off game which lasts an afternoon or evening (we call this a one-shot), which forces you to very quickly establish your character in the group. This is a skill which I think is readily transferable to flash fiction; the ability to create a memorable character or scenario from limited resources, be that time or words. 

WOW: That’s such an interesting connection between traditional writing and another form of storytelling. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it? 

Victoria: I am currently reading Beloved by Toni Morrison. I chose it because I listen to a fantastic podcast by the Jamaican author, Marlon James, "Marlon & Jake Read Dead People", and he has exhorted his listeners more than once to read it (and to read Toni Morrison in general). My reading list gets longer every time I listen; if you want a hilarious literary podcast that doesn't take itself too seriously, this is the one for you. 

WOW: Thanks for that recommendation! If you could give your younger self one piece of writing advice, what would it be and why? 

Victoria: Stop living in your head. A writer actually has to write, so get those thoughts and dreams out of your head and onto the page. And don't ever wait until you have time to write (you never will); 5 minutes a day is better than 2 free hours that never come. 

WOW: That’s advice that I and my younger self need to hear. Thank you! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Victoria: I would just like to say I am so happy that you enjoyed my story. This was one of my first times entering any kind of writing competition so I have found the experience really inspiring and motivating. Thank you for providing a platform for women writers. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing your story and for your thoughtful interview responses! Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes and offers developmental editing and ghostwriting services to partially fund the press. Connect on Twitter @greenmachine459.


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