Candida: I have to admit I really enjoy writing flash! I love the challenge of fitting as much action and imagery into as few words as possible, in much the same way that crossword enthusiasts love to fit the words into their puzzles. In fact I’m a bit of a fan of cryptic crosswords…
LSQ: What was the hardest part about writing this story and why?
Candida: The hardest part in this particular story was making sure it was “relateable” for as many people as possible. Not everybody has thoughts of Chinese dissidents at the top of their minds right now. I wanted to bring out the continuum from old power structures—the man taking it for granted that the young woman wouldn’t refuse him— through the more recent past—exiles such as those during the Cultural Revolution—to the present day with its powerful industrial figures. Finally my lifelong interest in the country’s history meant I wanted to show the people’s courage and ingenuity winning out over injustice as it does in real life, even if sometimes only after much time and at a price.
LSQ: There’s mention of a dubious “Laboratory.” Is this a place you’ve written about before or plan to revisit in future stories?
Candida: The Laboratory could be any industrial research institute of the sort you may find in China, Russia, or even Germany. It’s not supposed to sound sinister: perhaps it’s just developing new cleaning products or dyestuffs. The Dissident came up against issues common to nearly all organisations, East and West: cost-cutting paired with the lack of ways to get vital information from the ‘floor’ to the top. At the moment that particular place doesn’t figure in any other of my stories, but now there’s an idea…
LSQ: Are you working on other projects currently? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
Candida: My fantasy novel The Blackmail Engine, set in a future Russia, is presently on the prowl for an agent:
“A fugitive dissident; a scheming Countess; a city where no night falls… night huntress Katya can trust no-one as she fights to save the city’s women, and herself, from their fundamentalist Commissar’s scheme. Snowden with a dash of Crime and Punishment.”
There are details on my website – www.cspillardwriter.co.uk., which also has a list of free-to-read short stories.