About Fliss Zakaszewska

She’s led a chequered life.  Born in Guatemala, Spanish is her first language although with a Cornish Dad, she was mother-tongue English by the time she was five.

Early career

Fliss has had an unusual career path into the world of writing. She did a a ton of jobs she hated, including nursing (which she thought she’d love), secretary (back in the day, a glorified typist and tea-maker or, if the company had a ‘tea lady’, then tea-fetcher), factory worker, waitress, shop worker (Sainsbury’s and Woolworth to her  name)  and for a glorious three weeks, omelette maker at the grandiosely named ‘Golden Egg’ .

Why hate nursing?

The passionate dislike to nursing surprised her as she fully expected to love the job of helping people, but she didn’t have what it takes to nurse the sick and dying, and it left her with a jaundiced view of the medical profession in general.  However much as she disliked nursing, her admiration for the nurses themselves is immense.

In the clearing stands a writer and a writer by her trade…

All through her chequered and inauspicious early career, she wrote, and did have unsolicited pieces for Cosmopolitan and Reader’s Digest published (you know, those funny little stories that appeared in the footnote of Reader’s Digest?).  Cosmo were kind enough to print her wittering when they asked for readers’ stories and feedback (nowadays they’re called ‘blogs’ – please, do read mine!).

What changed?

During a spell of ‘sec temping’, she was sent to a little computer firm in Bristol.  They only turned out to be one of IBM and Compaq’s major distributors.  Turning down the permanent role, an improved offer of Office Administrator and then Office Manager, they found out that she was ‘quite good with computers’.  They sent her out on a demo with a salesman and she helped to clinch the deal.  Jim, the manager’s words were, “Alright, you cantankerous madam, so you don’t want an admin job.  I’d like to offer you the job of trainee system engineer‘ and the rest, as they say, is history.  Bless you Jim, wherever you are.

Most of this time was spent working for herself as an IT consultant.  They were happy times and clients included the BBC and ITV (Plymouth).  It also gave her the opportunity to return to the ‘Land of My Fathers’ – Cornwall.

Writing + Words + Computers = Happy Fliss

Falling into the computer industry eventually led her to specialise in software and that in turn led her into IT training.  This meant she had to start writing training handouts then user guides, et voila, she became a technical writer.  The IT industry kept her happy for many years, until the bug to write stories bit.  As a struggling single working Mum, IT was a God-send.

Inspirational Switzerland

The recession in 2007 / 2008 drove her to Switzerland on a three month contract and, rather like Shirley Valentine, she stayed there for seven years, taking a slight career swerve to take on the role of Knowledge Manager at her Swiss company.  After seven years, she took voluntary redundancy, knowing she could go on the very generous Swiss ‘dole’ for 2 years.  Nevertheless, she emailed her old boss from ‘ITV days’ s who now worked for King’s College London.  Within 24 hour he had replied with the unbelievable lines, ‘Your timing is perfect.  We have just the role coming up for you.  Oh, and by the way, we are opening an office in Cornwall‘.  Jaw-dropping, breath-stopping stuff.  As a fiction writer, she couldn’t script that.  Editors would red-line it out as ‘narrative convenience’.  That is how she’s ended up in an amazing job for a top university with the impressive job title of Knowledge Manager, based in her beloved Cornwall.

Living by the side of Lake Geneva was what finally inspired her to start writing fiction and she is working on the final edit for her first novel ‘A Million Mountains‘.

From the sublime to the go-blimey

So she’s written a novel but she loves writing flash fiction.  She generally rises to the weekly challenge set by Friday Flash Fiction to write a bite-size story in 100 words or less – yes, a story with a beginning, middle and end in one hundred words or less.  Check out Friday Flash Fiction site and the weekly Lite-Bite blog for a weekly free micro-fiction story.