This week it’s been great to have my short story, The Blockcutter, featured at the historical flash fiction journal http://flashbackfiction.com. The editors at Flashback have been really supportive and helpful and I enjoyed answering questions about the backstory to the piece and what is it I like about historical fiction.
The story is a re-working of a poem I wrote years ago. Last summer, I met up with a bunch of MLitt students to get feedback on our work as we pulled together our final portfolios. One week, in the middle of a rare Glasgow heatwave, we decided to split into pairs and work on short pieces, giving each other feedback. My partner Claire looked at the scrappy kind of poem/kind of prose that I’d never finished but didn’t want to abandon and my enthusiasm for it returned.
The story’s about my Grandad, William Alexander Low, who worked as the titular blockcutter in the linoleum industry in Kirkcaldy. Lots of my ancestors were involved in floorcloth and linoleum work in the long 19th Century. It was dirty, messy and smelly but the blocks that they made are really beautiful and are still exhibited in the local museum. They made me wonder about who decides on the artistic status of an object.
The story has lots of details about my Grandad’s life. He was a trades union member before they were recognised and accepted, a runner with the Kirkcaldy YMCA Harriers, a keen gardener who grew all his own vegetables. Flashback Fiction were kind enough to use one of the photographs I have of him as an apprentice to illustrate the story. Here are a few others I feel very lucky have survived.