Interview: Florence Molly

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Florence Molly is interviewed by Billie Jenkins

Florence Molly is a young writer who’s achieved a lot for her teenage years. Her thoughtful, poignant prose has been picked up on by several interesting projects, from Peckham Peculiar to the London Lit Project.
In April 2012 she founded Inky Magazine, an online network for aspiring writers to share their work and discuss all aspects of the creative writing world. Showcasing some really great, original works of fiction, including some from Florence herself, Inky is an example of small scale project providing a platform for talent. It’s easy to lose a few hours digging through past posts from an array of contributors, falling into a variety of literary styles. It’s also the perfect example of the great things that can happen if you get out there and do something with your work. Here we interview Florence about the magazines success, her approach to writing and what inspires her.

Inky Magazine is a great source of both non-fiction and creative writing, what were your ambitions when you began the magazine?

Funnily enough, I started Inky one slightly bored afternoon as a spur-of-the-moment thing. I was interested in creating a collaborative online magazine where young writers could share their work and read the work of similar-minded people. It was amazing in the sense that it took off straight away and I had submissions from writers all over the world flooding in! Although I’ve found myself re-inventing the appearance of the magazine several times and re-organizing the way it works, its value has stayed constant since that lazy holiday afternoon when it was conceived; that it would remain a supportive and inspiring community for young writers everywhere.

I’ve always found that of all the ways artists work, writing is the form people are most shy about, perhaps because it is less removed from their personal thoughts than other mediums. What is it that a space or community like Inky Magazine offers that encourages contribution?

That’s an interesting point, and I totally agree. I think with Inky I’ve tried to really emphasize experimentation. I know for myself it’s very easy, as a young writer, to become trapped in a particular “style” of writing in an eagerness to find my “ artists’ identity” so to speak, and so it can be hard to break away from that. Similarly, for young people who perhaps haven’t tried writing but are interested in it, the online writing world can seem extremely intimidating. I’ve tried to encourage risk-taking in writing by using the collaborative aspect of Inky as a place for young writers to discuss ideas and play around with things in – what I hope is – an informal environment. I think because the writing you read on Inky is written by young people, it encourages contribution from readers who can relate – in a way that’s more difficult when confronted with a bigger, glossier, more prestige publication.

What do you think makes a great piece of fiction?

I think good fiction has a certain sparseness. It’s about select few, very carefully chosen words and very well thought out ways of saying what you want to say. Also I think really great fiction achieves this relationship between the words and the reader where not everything has to be explained – because the words suggest and the reader assumes and a lot of the story is not actually written in black and white on the page but instead somewhere in between the writers’ intention and the readers’ mind, if that makes sense. Good fiction is about allowing a space for interpretation, in my opinion.

When your starting a new project, what are the first things that happen?

In the infant stages of something new I am completely reliant on my journal! Everything is written down, or sometimes sketched in complicated maps – I don’t usually compile things together until my thoughts have been left to “marinate” for a bit. I do a lot of talking to people as well. For a long time after I’ve had an idea for something new that’s all that happens: jotting notes down and talking about them! This means I can revisit things after periods of forgetting them and start properly working on them with a fresh outlook. So it’s like a constant cycle of ideas being toyed with, then left, then worked on, really.

Your work has been included in a lot of exciting projects, from Peckham Peculiar to Postcard Shorts. What advice would you give to some one trying to get their words out there?

Don’t be afraid of rejection! It’s obviously natural to be scared of not being good enough at first but you’ve got to overcome it. I get rejected from places all the time (and from reading a magnitude of interviews with others, aspiring writers and professionals alike, I can assure you everyone does!). I think it’s about sending off as much of your own work as you can, to as many places as you can, because someone, somewhere is going to like it. And it’s also definitely about talking to – be it online or in person – as many people as you can. Twitter has been amazing for me; I’ve been made aware of so many fantastic projects and people because of it.

As a young writer, what do you feel your biggest challenges are?

I think – and this isn’t just exclusive to writers but to young artists in general – it’s overcoming the restraints placed on the creative subjects in education at the moment. Young people are often urged to stay away from pursuing creative careers at all costs and encouraged to focus on something more “stable” or “useful”. I think there’s an obsession with skills having to be practical or have clear pathways to jobs – I had a careers meeting a while back at school and she told me “poetry was a dying art form” and that I should perhaps write song lyrics for pop singers instead as that had more money in it. This mentality that everything has to lead to money or a stable career or a place at a top university is pretty toxic for any young person wanting to pursue a creative subject; it’s basically telling us that it’s not about doing what you love but about doing something that will “benefit” you, and I think sometimes it can be hard to overcome that.

A bold final question, but it has to asked? Who are the writers who inspire you?

I am a huge fan of the way Murakami uses words. There’s something inherently beautiful about the way he constructs his stories, the way he chooses to put sentences and plots and characters together. It feels like there’s a methodical-ness to his writing that is unprecedented. I love it. I’ve also been reading a lot of Eugenidies lately and I really like the people he writes about more than anything else. They appeal to the dreamy romantic in me, definitely! There’s so many more, I could go on forever, but I’ve got to mention A. L. Kennedy – she’s someone I’ve only discovered recently but I can’t fault her. She captures the “sparseness” that I think really nails great fiction with such ease it’s incredible. I can’t get enough of her.

Inky Magazine, with its wonderful works of fiction by young writers, including Florence herself, can be found here. Contact them at inkymagazine@hotmail.co.uk.

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