Flash Fiction – the Historical Variety

Damhnait Monaghan is a friend of mine who writes novels as well as flash fiction. Danhnait — pronounced Downith as she explained to me several years ago — and her colleagues are creating buzz around historical flash and she’s here to tell us about it and encourage authors to participate.

In December 2017 a group of writers who had published historical flash were part of a Twitter conversation about which journals might publish historical flash. Realising there was a gap in the market, we decided to start an online journal: FlashBack Fiction. It was very much in that old Hollywood musical spirit of, “Hey, let’s put on a show!”  By January 2018 we had opened for submissions and we’ve never looked back. We publish one piece of historical flash, prose poetry, or hybrid a week.

It takes special skill to write an engaging slice of history in under 500 words but our authors have risen to the challenge and do us proud every week.

Some of the stories we’ve published have been humorous: “How Monday Was Made” by Guy Biederman features God as a California hipster, while Nick Black’s “Wheel of Fortune” mines that well known invention from the Stone Age for laughs. While these are purely fictional, other stories include real people from our history books, like Ellen Goldstein’s “In Marie Curie’s Kitchen”or Mary Morrissy’s “IceBlink”about the sinking of the Titanic. Many of our stories have been deeply moving, with some bringing tears to our eyes.

We have deliberately left the boundaries of what we deem ‘historical’ quite vague; we recognise that one person’s history is another person’s childhood. However, we look for a piece to suggest a specific time and place, and for that time and place to be vital to the story in some way. But we are open to exploring many different interpretations of what this means; we want to be part of the dialogue about what historical fiction — and historical flash fiction in particular — can be.

Our published stories are listed in a timeline on our website and there is a massive gap between 12C BCE and 1577.  We’d love to see more stories from outside Europe and North America.  We set out to create a positive, inclusive space that celebrates strong writing and reflects a diverse range of time periods, locations, events, people, cultures, and social backgrounds.

We believe that publishing diverse voices is especially important in a project like ours, since we are representing history. We have a special interest in stories that help fill in some of the gaps in our history books and/or challenge assumptions about the past.

We would like the histories we present to be as inclusive as possible, so we especially encourage submissions from diverse voices including (but not limited to) writers of colour, LGBTQIA+ writers, writers from working-class backgrounds, and writers with disabilities.

We’ve only been around for a year, but we already are well-known, punching above our weight. We nominate for prizes such as Pushcart, Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction. Three FlashBack pieces have been published in the first Best Microfiction anthology, and another was chosen for Best Small Fictions, 2019.

We encourage our authors to record an audio version of their story to accompany the print. Because we have an international readership and love publishing stories from all over the world, we think being able to hear each piece can add another dimension to the story. And importantly, it helps make our stories more accessible

We also encourage authors to participate in FlashBack, our author interview, published later in the publication week. However, both features are optional.

We would love it if some of Mary’s followers sent us a story. We read all submissions blind. You can find our guidelines here. Follow us on FaceBook and/or Twitter too!

I’m intrigued, Damhnait as I’m sure other readers will be. And I’m delighted that FlashBack Fiction has already had such success. So writers/authors, what are you waiting for? It’s time to flash!!


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

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Meet M.K.Tod

The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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