Last week Dave Hartley answered a bunch of questions poised to him by writer Simon Sylvester who answered questions poised to him by, you get the idea. Dave assigned me and Sarah Jasmon the task of answering them this week and at the end of this blog post I’ll assign them to another two writers, punishing them.
What am I working on?
I finished draft one of my novel ‘Cowards’ just before Christmas, as those of you who read this blog regularly will know. It’s an odd little coming-of-age story about a boy and his murderous uncle, and as first drafts go, I’m quite happy with it. It definitely needs more work at the moment, and I hope to have another few drafts finished by the end of the year.
I’m also plotting out and writing a second novel, which hasn’t really got much of a title at the moment (it might wind up being called Postcards of the Hanging, or Soft Places). It’s in the very early stages, and is in part at least going to be a tiny bit autobiographical, but I’m really looking forward to writing it.
I’m also working on a few short stories, which I hope will see the light of day in a few places this year.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
This is a question perhaps best answered by someone else who can make a bit of an objective judgement of my work. I use the word ‘turn’ more than most people.
Why do I write what I do?
It probably has something to do with the writers I grew up with, Iain Banks, Stephen King, Don Delillo amongst others. I read The Wasp Factory when I was fairly young and it struck a proper chord with me. I love weird fiction, strange stories, gothic horror and oddball writing. I love stories about terrible people, unreliable narrators, small towns, big cities, the baseball scene in Underworld (the single best opening to novel ever). Recently I’ve fallen in love with JG Ballard, Junot Diaz, Wells Tower and Clare Vaye Watkins for the same reasons. I adore Cormac McCarthy. I write what I do because all of those people have stuck something in my head, and I can’t get them out without writing. That sounds a bit dirty. That’s because it is.
How does my writing process work?
For me, stories start as a little germ of an idea, an image or a line which I write down and keep going with little to no idea about where it’s going, until a story starts to come out of it. The first chapter of my novel ‘Cowards’ was written like that. I had the opening sentence, ‘The truth, since you asked is that my uncle isn’t to blame.’ from the very beginning, but very little else. I kept on writing and writing and by the end of the first chapter I had the concept down, the story more or less worked out and the ending in mind. My short stories tend to work out the same way.
I hope my answers thrilled you so much that you literally can’t get up out of your seat, and have to ask a stranger for a tissue to wipe up all of the tears, falling from your face.
I have to nominate someone to take this up from me, answer the questions themselves and then pass it on. I’ll nominate Fat Roland. He now has a week to respond or a small Japanese girl will climb out of his television.