• Helen Rye

UK Flash Fiction Festival 2019

This year was, of course, amazing. The readings. The workshops, The food. The company. The international workshop leaders and presenters! We had Kathy Fish! We had Vanessa Gebbie! We had Christopher Allen! Tara Laskowski! Flashback Fiction! Ingrid Jendrzejewski! Meg Pokrass! Nancy Stohlman! Tino Prinzi! Carrie Etter! Diane Simmonds! Jude Higgins! Karen Jones! Ken Elkes! Nuala O'Connor! Michelle Elvy! Laurie Stone! Nora Nadjarian! Michael Loveday! I probably forgot a load more amazing people who also taught workshops because I was mostly too busy in my festival roles to get to many workshops, this year, but the ones I did attend were just fantastic.

I'm the festival Entertainments Co-ordinator, which basically means I decorate the bar and set up and run the karaoke with my co-host, Christopher Allen. This year it was a glowing cavern of fairy lights and glitter. We sang. Nearly everyone else sang. In one of my favourite festival moments ever, the entire crowded bar sang a late-night, candle-lit* version of Hey Jude to Jude Higgins, the beloved creator and convenor of the festival. It was an emotional moment.

For SmokeLong, it was a particularly fun weekend. It was a rare chance for three of our editors to catch up at the same time—for me, with two of my best friends and favourite humans on the planet: Tara Laskowski (over from the US), and Christopher Allen (over from Germany). Here we are in our SmokeLong -icorn t-shirts.

We also filmed a series of our Flash Cab interviews. These can be found on the SmokeLong YouTube channel, and I've linked them here, too (look out for my cameo role as Mysterious Weirdo in the Back Seat). We interviewed flash fiction legends Santino Prinzi, Nancy Stohlman, Dash Taylor, Ingrid Jendrzejewski and Meg Pokrass as we drove them to the festival in the SmokeLong Flash Cab, which charges the live reading of exactly one flash story for the ride. The outtakes video is worth a watch, too.

You should come next year. It's the best festival in the world.

*Battery candles—drunk writers plus naked flames is rarely the absolute best idea

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