Our Winter Readings series continues with an extract from Emma Venables’ brilliant Issue Thirteen short story: ‘A Conversation with Oma, 1968’. Emma Venables is a writer and academic, currently residing in the North-West of England. Her short and flash fiction has been widely published in places such as Mslexia, The Lonely Crowd, Ellipsis Zine, and The Forge Literary Magazine. Her short story, ‘Woman at Gunpoint, 1945’, came runner-up (3rd) in the Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize 2020. Her debut novel, Fragments of a Woman, will be published by Aderyn Press in June 2023. You can follow Emma on Twitter @EmmaMVenables
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From Issue 13
‘Protocol for a Window Visit’ / Katherine Duffy
Katherine Duffy reads ‘Protocol for a Window Visit’ from Issue Thirteen of The Lonely Crowd, which may be purchased here. Katherine Duffy lives in Ireland. Her poetry pamphlet Talking the Owl Away (Templar Poetry, 2018) received Templar’s Iota Shot Award. Two previous poetry collections were published by The Dedalus Press (Ireland). Her work was…
Strangeness Came Along in Spades / Katherine Duffy
But what galvanized me most, I think, was the sheer strangeness of that time. I know I’m not alone in feeling I had stepped through a portal into a different world. A surreal, science-fictiony, movie-set world of deserted roads and official, yellow sigils, with a soundtrack of repeating, robotic health and safety announcements. It’s hardly surprising that an experience such as standing outside a window in freezing winter air, attempting a phone conversation with my mother trapped on the other side, would make my mind shift gears enough to craft a poem at cruising speed for a change.
On Writing ‘Mushroom’ / Lisa Kelly
During Lockdown in 2020 I became obsessed with fungi. My regular walk around a nature reserve became a daily ritual, during which time I looked out for fungi, took pictures of them on my phone and tried to identify them. At a time of collective trauma, my fascination with fungi and learning about their life…
On Writing ‘The Mansion House’ / Elaine Canning
The interplay between the real and fantastical as a conduit for self-discovery is something which I explore within the broader parameters of my writing. In Carlos’ case, this is encapsulated in his encounter with the old man of the mansion house and his subsequent undertaking of three challenges; challenges fused with a darker side of his day to day reality and the unreal, with three doors, three sightings of his sister and the transformation of the three adults who care for him.
ON ANECDOTES AND HUMAN SOUP / Madeleine D’Arcy
An anecdote, in itself, is not enough to create a work of fiction. However, I disagree with the fictional Uncle Sima. For me, anecdotes are jumping off points, thought-provoking fodder and inspiration for my work. Of course, an anecdote has to be twisted and turned, stretched, recalibrated, reinterpreted and wrought into a piece of fiction that works. What I am always trying to achieve is a story that has resonance, subtext, emotional heft, significance of some kind; an insight into why people are the way they are and why they do the things they do. My fiction is mostly realistic and character-driven, so the anecdotes and throw away lines I hear on a bus or a train or in the supermarket or the pub are essential and without them, I don’t have a stepping-off point that leads me into something else.
In Conversation with Horatio Clare / Catherine Wilkinson
My best writing however, comes from a place of contentment, a place in nature – a calm sort of high is what drives my pen. So as to mania and creativity, I would concur with Jeanette Winterson – in Why be Happy when you could be Normal? – that madness does not inspire, but that creativity is the means by which one defeats madness. Creativity was a slow ladder out of it all.