Along with Christopher Black, I’ve been invited by the lovely Matt Cresswell to take part in a kind of blog relay race, answering a few questions about writing before handing them on. The race (not so much of a race, but an amble, as Matt quite correctly points out) has already travelled around the blogs of some amazing writers including Kerry Hadley, Anne Jensen, Louise Swingler, Graeme Shimmin and Dr Steve Hollyman
You can read Matt’s blog here
And do please check out the other writers too.
In the meantime, here’s me…
What am I working on?
For the last year and a half it has been all about short stories, short stories, short stories.
I’ve always been a massive fan – when done well, they’re such a precious art form – but in the past, they’ve been a bit like pulling teeth for me; I’d only write them occasionally between working on novels – but lately, something’s happened. Maybe it’s come from reading and loving so many, but I’ve become addicted to their particular tug and click. I’ve had a lot of fun and (hopefully) learnt a great deal more about the benefits of cutting and refining and generally playing with words.
I’ve had a lucky streak of recognition for my short stories too – ‘Coach Trip’ made the long list in the Manchester Fiction Award and I was runner up in Tin House’s Shirley Jackson competition. More recently, my ‘Bones’ made the shortlist in Synaesthesia Magazine’s first ever short story competition and I’m overjoyed that ‘Rash’ has been placed in the Willesden Herald Competition.
…Having said all that, the ghost of the next novel keeps creeping up on me. And soon, I think, it’ll be time to be getting on with that…
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Genre is a tricky word for me. What do I write? Literary or thriller? A touch, now and then, of horror, suspense? I’m interested in the psychological and emotional journeys of my characters probably above everything else. I also love language, all it sensuous potential, the grab towards a kind of beauty, even if you inevitably end up missing… I suppose there is a dark(ish) streak to a lot of the things I write – I don’t know, this is a very difficult question to answer…
Why do I write what I do?
Ag! Also hard – but mainly, for me, in whatever form, writing is about empathy, about compassion in a way. This is entirely separate from writing ‘likeable’ characters – it isn’t about liking or disliking, but more an understanding. That’s essential for me as a writer and as a reader.
And there are various things, probably tied up with my own psychology, which I can’t escape. My writing often comes back to ideas about mothers and motherhood, about love and loss, about secrets and ghosts – my characters are often haunted, some more literally than others.
How does my writing process work?
Practically, early mornings are best, as many days out of the week as are possible. Wake up, write. Wake up, write. Keep going. Later, edit, edit, edit. Consider feedback. Edit again. Wake up early, write…
So, I’m passing the blog baton on to two incredible writers: poet and prose writer, Pippa Hennessy (who is also Nottingham Writers’ Studio’s brilliant co-ordinator and general great supporter of all good writing things)
and short story genius, Giselle Leeb
Do drop by their blogs next Monday to find out more…