6 Things with... LAURA BESLEY, author of 100neHundred
A man carries his girlfriend in the left-hand breast pocket of his shirt. During World War II, a young soldier searches the houses and barns of the families with whom he grew up. An astronaut wonders whether she can adapt to life back on earth... In her second collection of short fiction, Laura Besley explores a kaleidoscope of emotions through 100 stories of exactly 100 words each, published May 2021 by Arachne Press.
Laura Besley writes short fiction in the precious moments when her children are asleep. She has been listed by TSS Publishing as one of the top 50 British and Irish Flash Fiction writers. Her work has been nominated for Best Micro Fiction and her story, To Cut a Long Story Short, will appear in the Best Small Fiction anthology in 2021. 100neHundred is Laura's second short fiction collection.
She is fluent in 2.4 languages (English, Dutch and German). She particularly loves the changing colours in Autumn and the cold, crisp days of Winter, and she doesn’t use bookmarks. Instead she uses postcards, or scraps of paper, receipts, you name it, often leaving them in when she’s finished the book. When she picks it up again, the memento tells the tale of when she last read it. She tweets as @laurabesley and instagrams as @besley_laura. She very kindly took the time to talk to me about 100neHundred, her latest book of microfiction, her creative journey, and more.
So Laura, can you us about six things that went into the writing of this book?
The main thing that went into 100neHundred was time. My love of micro fiction began several years ago when I started entering Morgen Bailey’s monthly 100-word story competition. You can enter up to three on a given theme and I did so almost every month for several years. Over time I accumulated quite a few stories, many of which are in this collection.
A lot of time also went into the writing of each individual story. A first draft doesn’t usually take very long, but then it needs editing and editing again, then you need to make it exactly 100 words, so you edit it again, then you send it off to a critique partner who kindly spends time discussing it with you, then you edit it again and again, and again you need to make it exactly 100 words, then you send it to your editor, discuss it again, edit it again and again and again you need to make it 100 words and then, maybe then, it’ll be finished. If you’re lucky.
Choosing an order for the stories also took a lot of time. I decided early on I wanted to divide them into four seasons, then labelled each story with 3-5 words, i.e. family, sad, relationship, death, quirky, prose, dialogue, etc. By doing that, it was easier to find a good balance for the collection.
I also spent a lot of time: in the kitchen while it was still dark before the rest of the household was awake, thinking of titles and snippets of dialogue or prose in between looking after my children and doing household jobs, and hoping that it would all, somehow, come together.
What are five things you need to get some decent writing done?
Paradoxically, I need to be busy to get some (good) writing done. I am more productive in short sharp bursts than if I have a whole day ahead of me. In cafes I love the background cacophony of conversations and music, but at home I need it to be quiet. I always write first drafts on paper, so I have notebooks, pens and pencils all over the house, in bags, in coat pockets, etc.
Can you think of four types of readers who will enjoy this book?
To be completely honest, I have no idea. I’d love to be able to say with certainty that such-and-such a reader will enjoy this, but I don’t think that’s a guarantee I can offer. All any author wants is for their stories, long or short, to be read and enjoyed. Whoever reads 100neHundred, whether he or she is a fellow flash or micro fiction author, an author of longer fiction, a poet, or “just” a reader who likes reading, I’d like to think there’s a story or two in there for everyone.
Three challenges you faced in the writing of this book?
The challenges I faced writing 100neHundred are the same three challenges I always face: endings, editing and titles!
I’m very lucky because predominantly I don’t struggle with story ideas and openings. What I do struggle with is endings. Always have and most likely always will. Over time, I’d like to think I’ve got better, through lots and lots of practice, but the ending is often the part of the story that needs revision after it’s been read by a critique partner or editor.
The ‘curse’ of having plenty of ideas is it’s easy to abandon a piece that isn’t working, or is difficult, and I’ve had to work really hard at sticking with pieces, or to use the more technical term: editing. Some people say the real writing happens in the editing and there’s a lot to be said for that. It’s something I’m trying to embrace.
There are moments I envy novelists only having to think of one new title a year, then I think about how hard it must be to write an entire novel and that feeling quickly dissipates. It is hard, though, thinking of a new title nearly every single day. Like with editing, what I’ve learned is not to rush it, or force it. Thinking of a good title takes time and sometimes happens when you’re out and about or cooking dinner.
Who are two writers that have influenced your work?
No two writers have influenced my work, rather the entire flash fiction and micro fiction community, especially those writing and publishing online. I read as many pieces as I can and am influenced and inspired by all of them on a daily basis.
And what’s one thing you hope readers will get from this book?
100Hundred is available for purchase from Arachne Press Bookshop.org, and Amazon.com. You can follow Laura on twitter at @laurabesley, Instagram as @besley_laura, and Arachne Press at @arachnepress.
Disclaimer: "EMC's 6 things" interview series seeks to promote the artist and their featured writing and is in no way an endorsement of any of said artist's services, opinions or other work outside of this feature.