There are so many! Paddy O’Reilly, Cate Kennedy, Margo Lanagan, Dan Chaon just to name a few.
2. What is the most memorable short story you have read? And why does it stand out for you?
Margo Lanagan’s “Singing My Sister Down” heartbreaking, beautiful and bloody eerie! She manages to plonk us into a foreign world where a young girl Ikky is being executed in a tar pit and manipulates our feelings so skilfully that we’re emotionally exhausted by the end. I love how she sets up this foreign culture that shocks us but as we navigate through the confusion we realise we aren’t so different after all.
3. What do you like about the short story form?
It’s so damn powerful. In a few pages, we can be slapped, confused, charmed or violated. We can be moved to tears, humoured or frustrated. The best ones leave us baffled and rereading to find the answers to questions that aren’t hidden on the page but in the place the writer has so skilfully unlocked within us.
4. How would you describe your own writing?
I love to mix it up and explore different styles, genres and voices. It’s very important that I keep my writing fresh. The minute I feel like I’m writing the same stories, recycling the same words etc I lose interest.
5. Which of your stories are you most fond of right at this moment and why?
“Hindsight.” The story is set in a small village where my teenage narrator, Jarn, is going blind and lives alone with her grandmother in a stone cottage. This place, this world with its stone hearths, wings and magic trees seems so familiar to me, it’s as if I’ve been there in another life. Every time I read it I return refreshed and full of possibilities.
6. Where do the ideas for your stories come from? (Take us through an example)
Everywhere! It can be a sentence, an image, a mannerism, anything really. I once watched a short clip of an old woman dragging her disabled grandson to school in a plastic basket through the snow. That display of human spirit and determination stayed with me for three years until I figured out who they were and wrote their story.
7. What is your writing process – from idea to publication? (Do you go it alone or are others involved?)
It’s very much a solitary process. I toss ideas around, sleep, eat and procrastinate until I hear a voice. I then sit and find the first line of the story and question who he or she might be, where they come from and where they want to go. The first line is an anchor, without it all I have is an idea, a lost voice. I’ll chip at the story for a few days until it takes shape in my head. I don’t like planning, I like to be surprised by my characters and let them show me the way. Once the story is complete I put it away for a few days before I write a redraft. I then send it off to various magazines…and cross my fingers!
8. Do you feel the short story form is valued in Australia? What makes you say this?
I hope so! I love writing and reading short stories and I’m not the only one. There’s a market out there and a keen readership, perhaps all we need is a little more faith.
9. How do you feel about your work being published in non-print forms such as digital and audio?
I don’t mind. As a writer you want your stories to be accessible to a wide audience. If that means audio and digital so be it.
10. What advice would you like to offer Spineless Wonders?
Believe. And never stop. There is no stronger ally than self-belief.