On Fiction Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
The front cover of Issue 3 of @PopToMag (Pop To…Magazine). Her piece: ‘Questions on a Pub Quiz’ is featured inside.
writes plays and short fiction. Her 2014 Dylan Thomas centenary play toured Wales and was performed at the Lost Theatre’s ‘One Act Festival’. Her short fiction (‘Potato’) has been shortlisted for the 2015 ELLE UK Talent Awards and (‘Fillet’) appeared in The Mantle Arts anthology ‘Beneath the Waves’. Her most recent pieces can be found in @turnpikezine, @poptomag, and @okaydonkeymag. Her work will soon appear in @milkcandyreview.
I’ve included a photo of the front cover of Issue 3 of @PopToMag (Pop To…Magazine). My piece: ‘Questions on a Pub Quiz’ has appeared in Issue 3.
- What inspired you to write fiction?
I just really remember always wanted to write. As a child, I remember writing so much, I got a callus on my finger (it’s still there!) In terms of actual books that inspired me – I’d have to say fairytales. The stories I wrote as a child were full or magic and anthropomorphic animals – so the work of Enid Blyton (I still have the ‘Squirrel Nutkin’ book) and Lewis Carroll (I still have the copy of Alice in Wonderland) were definitely important to me.
- Who introduced you to fiction?
My parents. They always made up bedtime stories and bought me books. My mother introduced me to a lot of the books she loved as a child (such as ‘Little Women’) my Dad introduced me to ‘The Wind in the Willows’.) I remember vividly ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ being read to us at school – and there was something unmatched about the excitement of the Scholastic Book Fair.
- How aware were you of the dominating presence of older writers?
As a child? Not really. Looking back, I feel like there wasn’t the avenues (pre-internet) for children to get into creative writing, in the way there is now (or, maybe I was just unaware of them!) I was always impressed by the writers I read at that age, though – I read the blurbs about them, in the back of their books. One author, (who wrote horror) claimed to have a haunted writing desk – I thought that was the greatest thing ever.
- What is your daily writing routine?
I tend to write when, and where I can. I normally write after work, and on weekends. I’ve written on my phone in the Doctor’s Reception; jotted ideas down when I’m doing my shopping. I’ve found that coffee helps enormously when writing, so before writing – there is coffee!
- What motivates you to write?
I don’t want to look back, and think I didn’t try hard enough. I don’t want to look back and think: “Oh, I could have been a writer if I’d just done X, Y or Z.” Certain stories are written because I have something specific to say (these are often the hardest to compose); others are written because I get a very strong sense of character or character voice. Seeing the successes of other writers is also hugely motivational.
- What is your work ethic?
I like to think I have a pretty strong work ethic. I think the most important thing is to think of any work you produce as a learning curve. You can always be a better writer. It’s important to know what nothing you write is ever wasted – there are no writing failures, in a sense – you can just use what you’ve written for another story, or another medium.
- How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I don’t think I’ve quite managed to let them go. One particular writer, Sylvia Waugh, produced a series of children’s books centred around life-sized cloth dolls (The Mennyms series), which I still think are fantastic. As a kid, it was this great, fun story. When I re-read it as an adult, it was clear that there were themes of loss and family, faith and love, that went over my head as a child. It reminds me to keep my intended audience in mind – but also to give my reader credit; to not over-write. Readers are clever – regardless of age – they’ll get it.
- Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Zach Doss. I discovered who he was, too late. After his passing, I read the pieces he had linked on his website. I was blown away by the humanity of his prose (‘The Bloodmouth’ in Passages North, is my favourite). There was something so universal about his writing – it really struck an experiential chord – but at the same time, his style and tone were so unique. Kathy Fish’s ‘Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild’ is a masterclass in the specific power of the poetic art form to speak with devastating clarity about social issues.
- Why do you write?
I have no idea why I have a general desire to write – I have no idea what fuels that – a tiny little bibliophile inside my brain, maybe? (I am joking!) Day to day, I write because there is a topic I care deeply about; or as a way to work through a difficult time; or a way to document a joyful time, in a creative way; because I’ve been inspired by the work of someone else…the list goes on. It’s fun to challenge yourself in your writing – to see how you can push your creativity.
- What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
Read. Write. Find a community. For me, that #writingcommunity is Twitter. There are a staggering array of magazines and journals on there – all are a great way to find new reading material; new voices; new ways of seeing things. The best thing about all the journals, editors and other writers, is the support they give. Rejections never feel like something finite; just encouragement to refine pieces and hone the writing craft. It’s a fantastic, creative, collaborative space.
- Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I’m putting together a collection of short fiction; and I’m trying to figure out which stories will best go together. There’s a sort of ethereal novella (that involves quite a few science fiction elements) which exists in draft form and staccato sentences, at the moment. I’m constantly looking at online literary journals – I have this dream list of journals – that someday I hope to get published in. I’m slowly creating stories to submit to them.