PEN & INK DESIGNS - WINNING WRITER SPRING 2014
Do you write for mainly adults or children? Adults.
Is this your first attempt at writing and what made you want to write it? Is the story based on fact or fiction and where did you get the idea from? I’ve written 12 short stories. Weltschmerz is one of my more recent ones. Most of my stories are inspired by characters and places in Glasgow, where I lived for 35 years. It is a city crammed with black humour and dark beauty. Weltschmerz is set in Hull and draws on the humour of programs like Phoenix Nights and The League of Gentlemen.
How long did it take you to write the book? It usually takes me around four or five sittings to write a short story. I’m not the quickest of writers. The first draft of my novel took two years to write.
Do you have a writing routine or just write when you feel like it? I started a writing routine when I began working on my novel about two years ago, before that it was pretty laissez-faire. I try and get 500 words down at a time, in-between a busy job and spending time with my family. I find this way I can usually get a chapter done a week (around 2500 words) and still keep my marriage intact….. :)
Rewriting/editing - do you love it or hate it? Rewriting is a necessary evil. It does kind of take the romance out of writing and makes it slightly mechanical. But you need to do it, but not over do it. The much-touted trick is to let the story lie for a while before you come back for successive drafts. I’ve found that the more sub-editing I do, the better my writing actually becomes.
Which novelists do you admire and did they have any influence on your writing? I am a big fan of Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita). He was a master stylist. He used a lot of adjectives, but they were always original ones, and he had the knack of using a lot without making the prose turgid. His writing is a mix of poetry, philosophy, riddle and dark satire.
Has it been difficult to get your first story published and if so what advice would you give other writers? It took me a while to get my first short story published, but after that, the floodgates sort of opened and I’ve now had seven published.
Do you think you will attempt to write a book and if so what would it be about? I am currently putting the finishing touches to my debut novel—a dark comedy set in the 1990s during Cool Britannia. It is a big step up from writing a short story, but I have enjoyed the challenge. After a break, I will begin work on a second novel.
In what ways do you market your book? I don’t market my short stories, but if I get my novel published I will create an author page on social media. It is another necessary evil!
What advice would you give to an aspiring novelist? Never write about what you think people want to read. Always right about something you enjoy and are passionate about.
Finally, please give a short summary of ‘you the person’ that would be of interest to our visitors: I like drinking beer.