Writer Carol Ross invited me to enter this blog-based question and answer session. Carol is a member of my Facets of Fiction workshops, and runs projects in writing as therapy – as well as turning out some pretty good short stories for the pure fun of it! (which is a pretty good therapy anyway). She blogs at: http://trioross.wordpress.com/
The Next Big Thing – the Questions Answered:
What is the title of your new book?
Where did the idea for the book come from?
This is the second collection of short stories I have published. The first was back in 2006 and was self published. Since then I have written many more stories, published a collection of monologues by the character Kowalski, and a short novel (or perhaps a novella). With something like a hundred short stories ‘in hand’, many of them published, performed or prize winners, I thought that the time had come to put a batch of them together and offer them for sale!
What genre does your book fall under?
This one’s hard to answer! I hope there’s a variety of stories in the collection Are they character driven stories? Rather, perhaps, the characters in them are driven by the circumstances they find themselves in. Typically my stories involve two or three characters taken by surprise by what they have encountered. They are often stories in which the style of the telling of the story is as important, to me, as the events in it. I’m taken with C.S.Lewis’s idea that a story is read (or heard) for the experience of its ‘surprisingness’, rather than for its ‘surprises’.
Will (is) your book (be) self published or published by an agency?
The book is published by Pewter Rose Press, an independent publisher based in Nottingham. As a Midlander, living in the north, I’m pleased to be taken on by a publisher based not too far from my original home ground. Pewter Rose published my novel, A Penny Spitfire, last year. They have some excellent writers on their list, and I’m pleased and proud to be numbered among them!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The stories included in the collection stretch back over the last five or six years, but (unlike the monologues in That’s What Ya Get! Kowalski’s Assertions) they were not written to stand together. This presented me with the problem of how to present them as a collection. I hope that, for the reader who reads them in the order printed, there will be a sort of emotional journey, but of course, I expect most readers, especially on subsequent readings, will duck and dive into the collection willy-nilly!
What other books would you compare your book to within the genre?
Comparisons, as they say, are oh dears! I’ve been influenced by several writers in my approach to fiction: Cormac McCarthy is one, especially in Blood Meridian. I’m a fan of James Joyce too, and his predecessor, George Moore, whose collection The Untilled Field is one of the great short story collections. Latterly I’ve been reading the works of the English short story writer, A.E.Coppard, a forgotten master among a very small number of English story writers. Most of the stories in the collection were written before I had encountered Coppard, but he has been inspiring as a role-model for the notion of being a short story writer, as opposed to being an aspiring novelist!
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
There was no specific point of inspiration, but that general urge, common to short story writers perhaps, to react to what we see and hear around us; what V.S.Pritchett has called the ‘poetic rather than a prosaic impulse’.
What else about the book might pique a reader’s
The stories (even the novel, and certainly the monologues) were written to be read aloud. This means I have tried to write them with an eye to the ear… not necessarily a very comfortable position to write in! I think even the solitary page-reader can benefit from reading aloud, even if only to himself. Words are to be spoken as well as imagined, and even when imagined, may be imagined as being spoken! I think of the page as a score for the voice, and have begun putting my own performances of those voices on the film-makers site Vimeo.