“Your prompts and feedback always unlock something unexpected for me. I absolutely love writing in your workshops.” 

stories   editing   workshops



I write, edit, and teach flash fiction. I am Senior Editor for Workshops and Outreach at the international flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly. I have an MA in Prose Fiction (Distinction) from UEA, where I was awarded the Annabel Abbs Scholarship. My stories have won/placed in the top 3 of The Bath Flash Fiction Award, the Reflex Fiction Prize, The Best Small Fictions, The Bristol Short Story Prize, The Manchester Writing School QMD Prize, been shortlisted elsewhere, and been published in various journals and anthologies around the world. I judged the Cambridge Flash Fiction Prize in 2018 and am a reader for other international flash fiction competitions. I am a brand new PhD researcher in creative/critical writing at UEA (part time). I offer flash fiction critiques, mentoring, and occasional workshops through SmokeLong.


muted colours image of neon sign (under shelf with plants and books on) saying "We are all made of stories"

Sepia toned vintage beige typewriter in small open vintage brown leather suitcase

“Our in-depth work on my flash stories exceeded my hopes for help with finding the more vital nature within my flash fiction. You gave a lot of time and attention, and your enthusiasm has been deeply pleasing. I can’t valuate what you’ve taught me and shared with me.”

SmokeLong Quarterly logo, strapline 'Flashing the world since 2003'



Screenshot of linked interview

interview with tara laskowski

“Vampires are sexy and cool. How is this a contest? Always choose vampires!” 

Read more here

Still from video of Christopher Allen and Helen Rye sitting at a table talking over very small glasses of wine

video interview with christopher allen

Christopher and I work together at SmokeLong Quarterly. He’s my best friend. We are ridiculous. This video interview for SmokeLong from 2019 is evidence of that.

Watch here

Picture of open water, text overlay: 100 Voice for 100 Years: One in Twenty-Three

interview for 100 voices for 100 years

An interview about writing the flash fiction story One in Twenty-Three

Read more here


special note for

lower secondary english homework

on one in twenty-three

Here because you were given homework on the story One in Twenty-Three? 

You might find some answers on this page, but here are some quick links:

One in Twenty-Three Bath Flash Fiction Award Autumn 2016

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai on One in Twenty-Three

The story was originally written for a community theatre performance in Norwich in 2016. It was a monologue spoken by a refugee with her son alongside her. We were asked to write a piece on the theme of ‘land’.
At the time the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean was fresh in the headlines and devastating stories were all over the media. In particular, people were fleeing the war in Syria, losing their land, and some were beginning to arrive in Norwich, where I live. There was hostility towards this from some people. I wanted to write something that might make people watching the play for a moment put themselves in the position of these people who had normal lives like ours until they were destroyed by war, so that there was no longer any other way to keep their child safe than to get into a boat on dangerous seas. As Warsan Shire says in her incredible poem, ‘Home’:
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land.
At that time, one in twenty-three of the people attempting the most dangerous of the routes across the Mediterranean died. Across the sea, around ten thousand that year. 
I’d never had anything published before. I didn’t know anything about the writing world and hadn’t ever been part of discussions about who should tell what stories. If I wrote it now, I might not use the first-person (“i/me”) point of view. Every element in the story was carefully researched and reflected, as best I could tell, things that were really happening to people at the time. The statistics about the death tolls in the sea came from the United Nations. 
On impulse I sent it to a big writing competition with no real expectations, and it won. It’s since been translated into Vietnamese by the incredible Vietnamese writer Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai and was published in Vietnam’s national newspaper,Hànộimới, and then the anthology Bay Lên, before being used for the flash fiction module in your text book.
An extra note if you’re here for your homework but also you want to be writer:
I didn’t see myself as a writer when I wrote this story. I have ADHD. I’m dyspraxic—nobody can read my handwriting, not even me. I never did my homework. I didn’t really go to school for much of Year 10 and I went to a REALLY bad school when I was there. I didn’t go to university until 2019, when I was as old as or older than your parents, and neither of my parents have degrees. 
Flash fiction is something that lives halfway between poetry and short stories, and it’s a brilliant way to pour your feelings about things that are important to you into words. It’s a wonderful form and a great way to start (and stay) writing. I think it’s the best there is.
If you write things, you’re a writer. Don’t let anyone (especially yourself) make you feel you’re not, or that you’re not good enough. ADHD/ASD? Brilliant! Most of the best writers I know are neurodivergent. Our brains are so creative. You don’t have to study creative writing at university to be a writer, but if you want to, and you’re not from a family background where people go to university, you’ll find other people who are from the same backgrounds there to support you, if you stick with it. However you decide to do it, write. You’ve got this.