Writers of WHQ: An Interview with Julia Ruth Smith

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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?

So today we are deeeelighted to introduce you to WHQer, award-winnning flash fiction writer, and just a brilliant member of the writing community, Julia Ruth Smith!


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

I started writing like many people during the pandemic and joined Writers’ HQ on a wine-fuelled whim, which on retrospect was the best way to join this community! I‘d never heard of flash fiction and yet here I am published in various magazines on both sides of the Atlantic… and Australia! I had enough angst to write a thousand stories but lacked the skills until I fell into the magic hands of Kathy Hoyle and the Flash Face Off (FFO) crew. It is really down to them if I had the courage to submit and I will always be thankful to them (sob).

Gif of Moira from Schitt's Creek sipping tea and saying "we love you"

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

I have absolutely no routine. I write when I should be working, in the middle of the night, walking to the gym, at the beach. I record thoughts on my phone and scrawl things on my students’ homework. A disaster really. Yet somehow it works.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m doing a course with Matt Kendrick and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m working on a bilingual project (Italian/English) with a friend who is sadly losing her sight. She is brilliant artist and someday it will become a novella-in-flash about friendship with her input and illustrations.

What advice would you give to a writer starting out?

Observe everything around you and conjure stories from the most mundane. I think it’s important to maintain your own personal style and not worry too much about winning things and being published. Submission/rejection can be gruelling but if your writing is authentic it will find a home.

Animated gif of a little red truck hopping over obstacles with text: keep truckin'!

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

I’ve recently had pieces accepted by Flash Frog and Miniskirt Magazine, two journals that I’ve dreamed of getting into. I feel a bit like The Beatles going big in the USA! Yet the piece that I cared most about was rejected many times until Seaside Gothic picked it up earlier this year. It’s called Littoral States and was a real catharsis from a painful relationship. It is a print-only publication and I feel like a piece of my past has been laid to rest in excellent hands.

What are the main challenges you face with your writing?

Writing comes easy most of the time. Sometimes I feel I can get stuck in a rut and always write about the same things. When that happens I drift away into magic realism and weird shit happens!

Gif of David Tennant saying "bit weird" and looking to the camera with a grimace

What are you currently reading?

I’m trying to finish Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson, which is just beautiful but I’ve been distracted by Tommy Dean’s Hollows and I dip into other flash collections as and when.

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

I love the variety of writing that comes out of the weekly FFO. I’m no fan of horror, dystopia and zombies but I’ve read some exceptional stories on the forum. I feel like I learn something new every week! The banter is a real tonic for me and I genuinely look forward to catching up with everyone on a Friday night!

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

This is difficult but a few have really stuck in my mind:

David by Jonathan Cardew in Cloves Literary

Missing Pieces by Jared Povanda in Unchartered Mag

If I Don’t Die First, I Will Know She’s Dead and Then What Else Is There Left To Do But Also Be Dead by Leigh Chadwick in Cloves Literary

…and many many more including some of our homegrown talents!


READ JULIA’S WORK HERE:

An Unspecified Time Between Then and Now — 1st prize winner in the Flash 500 competition, Nov 2022

One Year in Flash Frog

As Full as Friendship in Miniskirt Magazine

Shame in VirtualZine

Camping in Cold Garages on the Other Side of Grief in Reflex Fiction

A Few Things You Should Know About my Father — 3rd prize winner in the Flash 500 competition, May 2022

Roots in The Birdseed

We Are Resolute in Our Opinions and Beliefs and Happiest When Things Make Sense in Full House Literary: The Suit Deck Issue 4

Julia Ruth Smith
Julia Ruth Smith


Julia Ruth Smith is a mother, teacher and writer. She lives by the sea in the South of Italy. Her work has been published in Reflex, Full House Lit, Sledgehammer Lit, Versification and Virtual Zine and is coming to Flash Frog, Miniskirt Mag and the NFFD Anthology soon. She can be found on Twitter @JuliaRuthSmith1 or at the beach with her dog, Elvis.

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