Writers of WHQ: An Interview with Audrey Niven

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Author: Jo
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In case you didn’t know, the Writers’ HQ writing community is the actual, literal best in the universe, full of amazingly talented and generous writers who make our little corner of the internet a very nice place indeed.

And so, we decided to show some of ’em off as a part of our monthly Writers of WHQ interview series.

Get to know our amazing WHQ members — how they write, what makes them tick, their influences, inspiration, top tips and favourite stories — and see just how different each and every writer is. ‘Cause there’s no one ‘right’ (write?) way to do things, right?

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So today we would like to introduce you to WHQer, award-winnning flash fiction superstar and fabulous community member, Audrey Niven!


Tell us about your writing journey — where did you start, where are you now, and how did you get there?

I began ‘trying’ to be a writer at university. I tried lots of things – theatre reviewing, performance poetry, drama – and had some success right off the bat. But I didn’t have a clue how to develop from there and also had the pressing need to earn a living so it all went into abeyance. A long time later I came back to it and took a class with Sean Levin learning the basic skills of prose and developed a serious writing course habit which is how I first stumbled into Writers’ HQ with Seven Ideas in Seven Days.

Do you have a writing routine? How do you work best?

I’m best in the morning and also – curiously – late at night: that ‘oh I’ll just log off my laptop before I go to bed’ thing where you’re still there at 1am. But my routine is not that great. I should listen to Julia Cameron who says, “Remember it is far harder and more painful to be a blocked artist than it is to do the work.” Ain’t that the truth – and still we torture ourselves.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve had a very regular flash fiction habit since WHQ’s Flash Face Off began in April 2020 and hadn’t missed a single week until about two weeks ago. I reckon that’s a solid two years of at least a story a week. But I’m meant to be working on my novel. It’s my third and I’m just about to start the fourth draft. Maybe my subconscious is directing me after all…

What advice would you give to a writer starting out?

Write. Write anything, any time. Enjoy it. Learn as much as you can about the craft and give it a go. And make sure you read – not just what you like but also what will stretch you. Work hard.

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What’s the piece of writing you’re proudest of (and why)?

Hmm… That’s hard. I’m going to say my first novel which was pretty experimental and got me an agent (and a lot of very nice rejections along the way), but it was only sent out to a few editors and didn’t sell. So if I can have two, I’ll say my flash story …because if a day… published by Lunate Fiction, which I love.

What are the main challenges you face with your writing?

That’s a great question because honestly, the biggest obstacle to my writing is me. I’m very lucky to have time, space and a decent level of skill but I am my own worst enemy at getting down to it.

What are you currently reading?

I’m listening to The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn – the follow up to The Salt Path which was so good I had to go back for more. And I just read Small Things Like These by Clare Keegan in a single sitting. Such a small book with an enormous impact. Flawless. 

What’s your favourite part of the Writers’ HQ Community?

I have to say the Flash Face off crew because it absolutely rocks. Fun, compassionate, dedicated and of course, talented.  I’ve not been around much lately but I feel like I’ve made real friends there.

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And finally, give us three recommendations of writers or stories you love.

Ali Smith, especially her short stories. They’re brilliant.

Linda Grant – her novels and also her memoir of her mother’s dementia, Remind me who I am, again.

Guy Gunaratne – In Our Mad and Furious City was incredible.

If I can squeeze in a fourth – Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13. Oh my!


READ AUDREY’S WORK HERE:

On Rannoch Moor — highly commended in the Bath Flash Fiction Award October 2021 and nominated for a Pushcart Prize

High Time — 3rd prize-winner in the Flash 500 Competition Winter 2021

Woman in Repose in Twin Pies literary Volume 7

From the Sound in the NFFD Flash Flood 2021

Projective geometry published by Reflex Fiction

…because if a day… in Lunate Fiction

Janice is Awake and A Bag for Life in Ellipsis

The Museum of Lost Chances in Second Chance Lit

How to Cope in the NFFD Flash Flood 2020

Our Special Girl in 101 Words

Audrey Niven
Audrey Niven


Audrey Niven is a Scottish writer, coach and editor based in London. She has written in many forms and has received prizes for flash fiction, short story, drama and performance poetry. She runs The Propelling Pencil Flash Fiction and Short Story competitions and reads regularly for other awards. You can follow her on Twitter @NivenAudrey

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