Diane Simmons studied creative writing with the Open University, has a Diploma in Creative Writing (with Distinction) and has been writing for 8 years. She has entered numerous competitions and has had some success. She currently runs a writing group critiquing each other’s work. She writes mainly flash fiction and has had stories published in the NFFD anthology in both 2013 and 2014. Finally, she performed two of her stories at the Bristol NFFD event in 2014. In last year’s Hysteria flash competition, two of her stories were runners up.
What is the one thing no one would know about you?
I laughed when I read this. I am a chronic over sharer of information about myself and will happy chat away to people in shops and tell them my life story whether they want to know it or not. So, this question was a bit of a struggle. I suppose that many people wouldn’t know that in my twenties I took ice dancing lessons. As a teenager, I skated at Blackpool ice rink some Saturday nights and, as the fastest skater in my group of friends, was once asked by a friend to chase after a particularly fast boy skater and ask him out for her because she couldn’t quite catch him. I’m not a graceful person and perhaps I should have taken up ice hockey, but although I was pretty useless, I loved ice dancing.
Are the names of your characters important to you?
I think names can be a really important tool for a writer. They can act as shorthand to give an idea of the character’s age for instance. I think they are especially helpful in flash fiction where you haven’t got many words to play with. I tend to get a little fixated on names though – I really must retire Shona – I keep defaulting to it when I want a young Scottish girl in the 1970s. I have no idea why because I don’t think I’ve ever met a Shona in real life.
What was the most important thing you learned at school?
To type. We got the opportunity to have typing lessons at sixth form and I got obsessed with it and spent many hours typing on my portable typewriter when I should have been studying. I bought the typewriter out of my mother’s catalogue and paid a pound a week for it out of the £4.40 I earned working in a shop on a Saturday. Being about to type fast (if a little inaccurately) has been such a help to me as a writer.
What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?
My first ever short story success was when I won second place in ITV’s This Morning short story competition in 2009. I had to appear on the programme and listen as the judges critiqued and marked my story out of ten. All the judges were very kind but the comment that stayed with me was by Paul Ross, who said that my story had made him blub like a baby. Jacqueline Wilson was a judge as well and she came up to me after the recording and said how moving she found my story. It was quite a day.
What is the book that you wished you had written?
‘The Diary of a Provincial Lady’ by E M Delafield. It was written in diary form in the 1930s and the copy I have includes the three sequels to the original book. I’ve lent the book to so many people and am on my second copy as the first got shredded by a friend’s twins.
Finding Diane Simmons