PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Join hosts Veronica and Darren for a giant episode 58 and delve in to discussions about the original 58 sins of ancient Aztec cultures, the trials and tribulations of recording songs from radio onto cassette, the subtle promises that an author and reader share, industry news, book reviews and a moment of research into how many golf balls are on the moon! Best of all though there is an awe inspiring interview with the wonderful Andrew Roff, who is currently celebrating the release of his oustanding book The Teeth Of A Slow Machine... how can you not want to hit play?
Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience?
Mostly I write for myself, as a way of taking an anxiety I have (eg climate change; a difficult personal relationship), or something I don’t understand, and turning it over in my mind, examining it from various angles, and trying to describe it as it truly is. Often, once I’ve done this through my writing, I feel better – and occasionally it also results in a decent story!
Are there any secrets hidden in your writing?
Putting together a short story collection is a wonderful opportunity to weave secrets, Easter eggs, and subtle linkages into the text. The stories in my collection all take place in the same universe – albeit separated in time – and perceptive readers will see the crossover points. I love building puzzles into my stories, and the collection itself is a kind of jigsaw. I also love to use repetition as a deliberate technique, and certain phrases occur over and over again through these stories. As a starting point for readers: keep a lookout for sentences starting with, “Every day…”
Is there a message in your book?
These stories follow people who are trying to live with dignity, even though they are ensnared in various machines, systems and strictures. I hope the stories support the idea that it’s possible to find joy, and live a conscientious, compassionate existence, notwithstanding the constraints we are subject to.
Who is your most or least favourite character to write?
I love to write characters who are convinced of their own superiority (moral or intellectual), but who have a massive blind spot that is apparent to the reader. These people are relatable – we all have blind spots! And although they may be villains, we can’t help but feel some sympathy for them. As a reader, I enjoy these characters because it’s very satisfying to know just where they will come unstuck, even as they are totally confident that they will succeed.
How much research is involved in your writing?
Where I need to research, I usually only do this after I have a good second or third draft in place. I don’t want to let facts get in the way of a good-story-in-development. Needless to say, this can be risky if the research ultimately reveals that my story would never really play out in the way I’ve imagined! I do not recommend this approach to others…
What’s the most useful writing advice you’ve been given?
Some stories take years to blossom. I didn’t believe this when Josephine Rowe told me that in an email when I was just starting out – but now I can attest that it’s true. Write fragments, write a first draft, rip it all up and start again – and then wait. The best version of the story will arrive when it is ready.
What inspired your book cover?
Wakefield Press engaged a designer, Duncan Blachford of Typography Studio, to come up with some concepts, and the one that graces my cover is a photograph called ‘The Feather’ by a 1930s surrealist artist named Man Ray. I love it so much! And I fell like it’s a perfect complement to the book. Quirky, ambiguous, perhaps slightly menacing. I am in awe of cover designers.
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