Interview with Tess P., 2nd Place Winner in the WOW! Summer 2023 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Tess P. has worked throughout London, crossing careers from law to television with creativity, curiosity and playfulness at her core. ‘Secret Whispers’, an unplanned collection of contemporary poetry was published in 2021. ‘Secret Portraits’ is her second work, a dark treasury of shorts and poems that will be in print early 2024 with all paperback profits going to a UK cancer charity. She is hoping to send her debut novel out into the world very soon. Tess writes intuitively, driven by her heart. Her penchant for photography, eye for aesthetics and appreciation of life, imbue her every piece. You can find her most days engaging in light chat on Twitter/X @Tess_2020 

 ----------Interview by Renee Roberson 

WOW: Hi Tess! Congratulations, and welcome to the blog. How did you first get the idea for this story?

Tess: My idea for 'An Unexpected Muse' came suddenly whilst watching a TV series on the 'Old Masters'. This particular episode focused on the madness and mayhem within Vincent Van Gogh's mind, and it got me thinking how difficult one's life becomes when the aim is sheer perfection, and nothing less will sate. 

WOW: Ideas are all around us, right? What is your favorite line from “An Unexpected Muse?” 

Tess: Oooh! Excellent question. I have a few, but perhaps this is a favourite, summing up Da Vinci's internal angst: 

"Leo hung his head in shaking hands and wept uncontrollably. He was prone to an excess of drama, but art was art. It was his life, his passion, his beating heart's discourse."

WOW: Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your poetry and the forthcoming “Secret Portraits?” 

Tess: 'Secret Portraits' is a collection of around 30 poems and seven stories. The tone is dark, the words are biting, the core - twisted and shocking. But within the shorts are moments of humour, sass, poignancy and reflection. All my work tends to encompass trailing ribbons of tenderness, albeit faint at times. My one wish is that when the reader pauses to close the page, the words linger a while within their mind, and hopefully too, stirs the heart. I find inspiration simply from life around me. Sometimes, harking back to personal experiences, other times, sparked by my own photography, but mostly it is unconsciously gathered from a thousand snippets of thoughts. This will be my second collection, following on from 'Secret Whispers', and hopefully picked up by a small press. I'm planning for the profits from the sale of the paperback to be donated to a UK cancer charity. 

WOW: What a fantastic description of your poetry. You mentioned working on a novel. Are you a writer that does past by outlining short and longer works of fiction beforehand or do you prefer the process to be more organic? 

Tess: My novel is now complete and ready for querying. A sentence I thought I would never utter, probably like every other writer gone before me. I always knew the aim of this story, its tone, characters, and my reason for writing it, but in all honesty, most of the chapters came together in a totally organic fashion. It is in the edits, that I then play around with moving sections of the story, fleshing it out, and judging whether it feels satisfyingly complete. 

WOW: I can relate to this method! Who are some of your favorite writers and why? 

Tess: I've been an avid reader since I was five and read my first classic "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott, when I was about nine. It has stayed with me as a firm favourite along with "Pride and Prejudice," by Austen and "Jane Eyre," by Bronte. I have a very long and ever-growing list of cherished contemporary authors, including Clare Chambers, Joanna Cannon, Cecelia Ahearn, Samantha Downing, and Bernadine Evaristo. It's difficult to pinpoint what it is that exactly draws me to their stories, as their writing is very diverse, but I think they share the incredible skill of creating this wonderful sense of intimacy and warmth, resulting in a captivating and deep immersion that one has no desire to pull away from.

WOW: Thank for again for joining us, Tess, and congratulations on the win! We wish you the best of luck with your sales of "Secrets Portraits" and your querying process!


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