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Monday 12 March 2018

Paisley Shirt by Gail Aldwin

I am delighted to welcome Gail Aldwin onto the Blog today. I first met Gail last summer at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bath, and then again at West Sussex Writers’ 80th birthday/Writing Day in Worthing. We chatted about ongoing projects and I’m pleased to share that her debut collection of Flash Fiction is now available from Chapeltown Books.

Paisley Shirt is a collection of flash fiction, 27 very short stories which will surprise, delight and make you think. I was quickly immersed in these and read them all in one sitting, but it’s a great collection to dip into and read in stages too. Gail’s flash stories often take you in one direction, almost lulling you into a sense of cosy expectation and then the character(s) reveal their true selves, often with surprising results. One of my favourite stories from the collection is the title flash ‘Paisley Shirt’ where Aunty Maggy reveals a past secret that surprised me. Another is the poignant ‘Stone’, a tiny story with a lingering punch to the heart.

Gail Aldwin is a prize-winning writer of short fiction and poetry. Her work can be found online at Ink, Sweat & Tears, Slamchop and Words for the Wild. She also has stories published in a range of print anthologies including Flash Fiction Festival One (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2017),
Gli-ter-ary (Bridge House Publishing, 2017) and Dorset Voices (Roving Press, 2012). Cast Iron Productions (Brighton) staged Killer Ladybugs a short play Gail co-wrote in 2017. As Chair of the Dorset Writers’ Network, Gail works with the steering group to support writers by connecting creative communities. She is a visiting tutor at Arts University Bournemouth and author of Paisley Shirt a collection of short fiction.
Paisley Shirt:
A fascinating collection of twenty-seven stories that reveal the extraordinary nature of people and places. Through a variety of characters and voices, these stories lay bare the human experience and what it is like to live in our world. 

Q - How did you go about sourcing a publisher for a flash collection?

I received an email from Chapeltown Books inviting me to submit stories for a single author collection of flash fiction. I had an existing relationship with the publisher Gill James who has included my stories in the Best of CaféLit series and the annual anthology by Bridge House Publishing. Submitting stories to CaféLit as an emerging writer is an excellent way to have your stories reach an audience. I set about putting a collection together by using the theme of human resilience to link new stories and others which had been previously published. One of my favourite stories is about an old woman who reflects on an earlier relationship which became the title story for the collection, Paisley Shirt.

Q - Can you share what you love about flash fiction?

I like to write short fiction alongside on-going projects so that I get a sense of satisfaction in having completed a piece of writing. Flash fiction contains all the elements of a longer story and part of the joy of flash fiction is the ability to distil the details into a short form. Editing is where the fun begins! I love to see my flash fictions become more textured and layered through this process.

Q - For the flashes in this collection have you ever taken a character into a longer piece? If yes, then why and can you tell us more?

Most of my characters come fresh to the page with each new piece of writing. I sometimes reuse the setting of a flash fiction story to develop a longer piece. One of the first pieces of flash fiction I had published was called At the Hostel. It tells the story of an elderly homeless man who befriends a young girl at the homeless hostel by reading her poetry. I used this setting again when I wrote a 30-minute screenplay about young people struggling with the challenges of homelessness in an urban environment. This was delivered as a scripted reading at Bridport Arts Centre in 2016.

Q - You also write longer fiction, can you tell us about that and any other writing projects you're working on?

I’ve become really interested in working collaboratively with other writers over the last couple of years. I am working with four others on a 90-minute screenplay called The F Word about middle-aged women who celebrate a fiftieth birthday by going on a foraging experience. As you can imagine not everything turns out as they expect. Another collaborative group concentrates on scriptwriting and we are hoping to develop enough material for a short play night in the not too distant future. With five failed attempts at writing a publishable novel, I’m still not perturbed. This Much I Know is my current WIP. It uses a six-year-old narrator that gives a child’s view of the interaction between adults in a suburban community where a paedophile is housed. The trick in writing from a child’s perspective is to exploit the gap in understanding between the child and the actions of adults around them. I’m having a lot of fun playing around with strategies and techniques to capture the voice of a young child.

Twitter: @gailaldwin


The Writer is a Lonely Hunter

Chair DWN: 

Gail’s new collection of short fiction Paisley Shirt is available in Kindle Edition from 
Amazon. The paperback is available from all good bookshops.


  1. I’m not a flash fiction writer but I love reading it. Congratulations, Gail, on what is obviously a great collection.

  2. You'd like Gail's collection, Wendy. Highly recommended :)

  3. I love flash fiction to read and to write. It packs a tiny punch, and this looks like a great collection.

  4. Completely agree, Julia. It's also encouraging that publishers are now taking on Flash collections and recognising the growing popularity of Flash Fiction :)