Tuesday, 3 June 2014
What am I working on ?
I am working on my second short story collection and hopefully nearing the end. I’ve been working on it for over a year and have nearly twenty stories. One has won a competition, another was a short-listed finalist and is coming out in an anthology in July, another was long-listed and another has been accepted by a literary review. I still seem to have lots of ideas and am generating new work, but I am also at the phase where I am beginning to think of story order and how I would like the book to feel. My first collection came out in September 2013 with Indigo Dreams Publishing UK.
How does my work differ from others of its genre ?
Perhaps my stories have a broad range of locations as I come from Australia and have lived in West Africa and in several different places in Europe. I also like incorporating some colonial history when it seems relevant, as this is one of my great passions, and social issues like integration and migration. Crossing over into new cultures has been a big part of my life and that of many of those around me, so I have a deep interest in exploring this theme.
Why do I write what I do ?
I’ve always been attracted to both the short story form and the way language can be an important ingredient in its lingering effect. I love the power and verve of the short story. I love its precision and turning points, its resolution or open-endedness; the way it twitches on the page. With regard to subject matter, the compression of the short story works well for me – I can slide from one location to another, without the wearying depth of field that would be required for a novel. Each story is so exciting to write – it becomes your universe for the time you are creating it – and I also find that the fast and feisty rhythm of producing short stories is suited to my temperament and crazy lifestyle!
How does my writing process work ?
I am always listening for ideas. I love to feel a story beginning in my head and just live with it for a while or write a few notes (I think I have forgotten loads of ideas that way!). For me it’s really important to hop on the merry-go-round at the right point. First words are critical and the entry moment where you begin to unveil your idea to the reader must be subtle and resounding at the same time. I try to write in freefall, not searching too hard but letting voice come through and pitch establish itself. I think the story has to feel effortless and a little training must be involved – also dud stories must be abandoned! The most exciting part is having an uncertain idea about what will happen, and perhaps turning off on an unexpected tangent, then try to align the bones of the story and get to its beating heart. I also love a strong ending and like to try to steer towards this, although when it happens it is usually a moment of surprise for me too. I agree with what I think George Saunders said about the short story: Get in and get out.