Interview with Kathryn Aldridge-Morris, Q1 2024 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest Runner Up

Sunday, March 10, 2024
Kathryn Aldridge-Morris is a writer from Bristol, UK. Her work has been widely published in journals and anthologies, most recently Stanchion, Leon Literary Review, and The Bath Flash Fiction Award anthology; and her story 'Electric Storm' was selected for the 2023 Wigleaf Top 50. She is the winner of The Forge 2023 prize for Creative Nonfiction and Manchester School of Writing’s QuietManDave 2022 prize for flash fiction. You can read more of her work at

--interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in our Q1 2024 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What inspired you to write your essay, “Back Then, At Sea?”

Kathryn: I have a memory of when my son had just started preschool and we were living in Cádiz, Andalusia, in southern Spain. It’s a snapshot of the scene: me holding out my arms to embrace him, but not able to make him out from the other children because I’d just lost my prescription sunglasses. Not only that, but my clothes were wet and my hair was full of seaweed because we’d been kayaking and capsized a couple of hours earlier! For me, this encapsulates how my experience of mothering clashed so wildly with the expectations society has of mothers. At a surface level, I must have looked a mess to the other mothers and the teachers. But then, the concurrent story was, there I was, seaweed in my hair, fighting to help my son speak, fighting to help him realise his potential as a child, and mine as a mother. I started out describing the kayaking incident in the story where I’d lost my sunglasses, and the near drowning and helpless attempts at rescue became a metaphor for us finding a diagnosis and support for our son. The essay is an attempt to interrogate what’s underneath messy versions of motherhood. It’s an act of feminist writing.

WOW: Besides creative nonfiction, you also write flash fiction, textbooks and more. How do you juggle the different types of writing that you do? Anything you can share about the process?

Kathryn: I need to be in a very certain headspace when I sit down to write CNF or flash fiction as opposed to educational materials. I tend to immerse myself reading in the genre I’m about to write in to get into that zone. If I have a big work project to complete, I’ll often have to set aside my flash writing for a while – I do find it hard to switch between the forms.

That said, there is some overlap in the skills you need to be able to write educational texts and flash fiction. I write textbooks and online materials in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT) and the process is creative in that I’ll need to create dialogues between characters to illustrate a particular grammar point, or a reading text for a comprehension task. Both flash and ELT writing require you to be able to write to a constraint, not only in terms of word limits but you’ll also need to include specific lexical items (think ‘word cricket’ in flash!) Perhaps this is why I was drawn to flash, rather than short stories. Having spent over a decade writing ELT materials before I started writing flash fiction, paring down my writing to the bare essentials was my go-to approach.

WOW:  What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Kathryn: I’m reading my contributor’s copy of ‘Awakenings: Stories of Body and Consciousness’ published by ELJ Editions and edited by Diane Gottlieb. I was thrilled when my essay ‘The Gallbladder Monologues’ was accepted to be included in such a stellar anthology. Highly recommend!!

WOW:  Can you tell us what projects are you currently working on? What can we plan on seeing from you in the future?

Kathryn: I’m compiling a chapbook of fiction and working on a novella in flash which tells the wider story that we get a glimpse of in ‘Back Then, At Sea’. I’m not in a rush to publish them. I’m waiting for the right contest or the right small press which is a perfect fit for my writing!

If you want to read more of my writing, please check out my website:

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Kathryn. Before you go, can you share a favorite writing tip or piece of advice?

Kathryn: If your piece isn’t working or something’s missing, ask yourself where desire or need enters the story.



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