Getting To Know Our Second Winner
by Cheryl Whittaker Views: 1321
Toirdealbhach Ó Lionáird’s flash fiction piece about a deviously murderous son shocked and delighted the Mash Jury. We asked Mash Competition’s second winner some questions about his inspiration and motivation for writing.
Cheryl Whittaker: How did you hear about Mash Stories?
Toirdealbhach Ó Lionáird: I first heard about Mash Stories from my Writers’ Group’s resident news hound, Taidgh Lynch, who updates us weekly on all things hip.
Cheryl: What tempted you to submit a story to Mash?
Toirdealbhach: The two most appealing elements of Mash Stories are the ease of access to the stories and the brilliant platform. To read – or listen to – a 500-word story is easy. The reader can take something from the story, reflect, engage in discussion and even create their own. It’s the ultimate learning curve!
Besides, Mash blog is sleek and beautiful and its attractive sheen promotes interactivity and exposure for the participants.
Initially, my Writers’ Group used the three words as a writing prompt. After some choice feedback from the other members, I made a tentative submission.
Cheryl: How did you come up with the idea for your story?
Toirdealbhach: The idea for the story I submitted to Mash came from an image I came across of a necklace which looked like it would be far too tight for the average neck. For some reason the idea of a repressed son living with his mother became the means to express this idea and so the story grew.
Cheryl: Tell us about yourself. What’s your background?
Toirdealbhach: I’m a teacher of English and French at second level in Ireland. For years, my writing exploits didn’t extend beyond the classroom, but I developed a taste for it after completing further study which required much drafting and re-drafting. When I was appointed deputy principal two years ago, I discovered that writing provided the perfect respite from the day job.
I’ve always been a reader and I suppose there have been times when I’ve jealously admired the skills of other writers and wondered if I could emulate them in some way. I dabbled in poetry for years but have always been impressed by the power of the short story. Flash fiction seems to be an even better fit. Writing in a meaningful way is a new outlet for me. I have been writing every day for a few years now; I love it, and miss it when I don’t get my fix.
We were always exposed to literature at home, so books were never hard to come by. I’ve been lucky to have met people at my Writers’ Group with a similar desire to express themselves in writing. They offer support and encouragement and crucially are happy to provide choice feedback, which is an act of bravery in itself if you ask me! The next Mash competition could prove a battleground! It’s great to “mash” with your friends and obviously being a “masher” in the extended on-line sense is also great fun.
Cheryl: Have you been published before – any books or short stories?
Toirdealbhach: No! This is the first time! Amazingly, I had a second piece published within days of the news from Mash Stories, so maybe there was something in the water that week.
Cheryl: What’s next for you? Do you have any other projects coming up so Mashers can see what else you’re up to?
Toirdealbhach: Well, I’m still chipping away at flash fiction. It’s such a fun but intricate challenge, and I will continue to pitch my 500-word attempts into the fray. Short stories and novels also appeal but I’m realistic enough to know that these will take immense effort to bring to completion – although isn’t that what makes it so sweet in the end? I hope to keep writing and producing stories which demand to be told and as a bonus maybe even a wider audience will get something from them. Oh, and I’ll keep on reading to try and get to the end of that bottomless stack of books!
Quick Fire Round with Toirdealbhach Ó Lionáird
My passion, except writing, is …
Spending quality time with my wife and family and getting some exercise. Taking time out to just “be” is so essential and all the better to spend it in a space with the one you love. I like to run, cycle and walk. For me, there is no better way to oil the creative pistons than to take some exercise and return home armed with a clear head and a pocketful of ideas!
I know a lot about …
Education! I’ve been teaching for 15 years and although I know a little, I realised very early on that there’s always something new to learn. I’m learning bits and pieces all the time.
My childhood ambition was…
To play football at the highest level. Maybe I’ll get to finish that story some time.
I write because…
It’s infuriating but also satisfying.
My favourite book is …
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Maybe it’s a teacher’s choice, but it turns up a new angle every time I read it. And who knows, maybe there’s that one cracker of a classic in us all!
Recently I enjoyed reading/watching/listening to …
Reading Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s short story collection Mother America. I’m all agog about short fiction at the moment and her stories just hit the spot.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given …
…is to realise that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes but you can learn from them and make an effort to improve.
Thanks, Toirdealbhach, for sharing a little bit about yourself with us. We hope it will inspire other Mashers to get submitting! Keep us posted on how you’re getting on with your writing – we’ll be happy to share your progress with other Mashers. That’s the spirit of the Mash community, after all!
Our Chief Editor, Cheryl, has been with MASH since day one. Her poetry has appeared in Riot Angel magazine, and one of her short stories was published in This Is It. Cheryl’s creative streak also reaches to art, craft and photography, and her favourite way to combine all these passions is in art journaling and mixed media. You can view Cheryl’s work by visiting her website: www.cswhittaker.com