Caution – shameless self-promotion ahead
In conjunction with fellow Write Anything member Jodi, I am editing an anthology of short stories called Chinese Whisperings. As part of our author profiles on the site, we asked each contributing author to answer any five questions from a long list of 24.
Because the original idea I had for today’s article simply wasn’t working, I’ve decided to select five questions I didn’t answer, and answer them today, in lieu of a well thought out and planned article. Because I’m quite lazy.
Would you rather have critical acclaim, or commercial success?
As an artist, there is a certain desire and need to have the approval of the establishment and your peers. Even those who rebelled against the establishment did so out of frustration at their lack of acceptance. I think all writers, artists etc crave the validation that comes from critical acclaim. But critical acclaim doesn’t put food on the table. It sounds selfish, but I’d prefer to have commercial success. I want this to be a career, and you can’t have a career doing something if you can’t live by doing it. So I would take commercial success, because if you are secure and successful, you can work on the critical acclaim.
Are there any other writers in your family?
My uncle is a poet and writer. My older brother is a cartoonist, a job that necessitates he writes as well as draws. And my younger brother has also been known to write, especially now that he’s got his own radio show!
What is your favourite short story and why?
I think my absolute favourite short story has to be The Thing on the Doorstep by HP Lovecraft. I don’t scare easily, but that is one of the few stories to have me anxious, and to feel chills running down my spine.
Where do you get your inspiration for stories and characters?
Some of it comes from real life. Some characters are amalgamations of people I know, or know of. Some situations are drawn from personal experience, or from the news. I wish I could say that there’s a big book of ideas that you get given when you decide to become a writer, and you just pick situations and characters from that, but there isn’t. Most of it comes from the realms of the imagination, from a place that you can’t quite put your finger on. It relies on being able to get into the skin of others, to look at a situation and wonder “what if” – and depending on your genre, to look at life through a cracked and warped lens and record the nightmares.
When do you normally do your writing? What do you most like/dislike about writing then?
If I’ve got a deadline, usually mere moments before the deadline comes due! For the past few months I’ve been very bad and have lapsed into the old trope of “waiting for the muse to inspire me”. Well, if you wait, you’ll be waiting a long time. That’s what I hate most about being someone who only writes when the fancy takes me – the uncertainty, the frustration. Ideally, I’d write for an hour or two every day, probably in the morning as distractions are fewer (although the disadvantage is ensuring you still get up early enough in the morning to do the work).