A former language
teacher, pilot and rock guitarist, David Ayres claims to be
influenced by Flaubert, Thomas Mann, H G Wells and Thomas Hardy. He
lives in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He has published several novels, including, The Called and the Chosen (Lichfield Press) and A Minor Relationship (Minerva Press).
with David Ayres
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
David Ayres: The
whole project, Top of the Sixties, took in the region of
eighteen months. This involved quite a determined and concentrated
effort and most of the work was done while I was living in
Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
I did. It was my partner’s idea to put down the memories of that
decade, because I talked so much about those days and the short story
anthology is the perfect format for busy people, rather than the
inch-thick novel which doesn’t split easily into manageable
sections. I also find that many of the most memorable works I’ve
read have been short stories.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
I was very lucky to be given a lot of guidance in this task by my
publisher, Bernadette Jansen op de Haar of Holland Park Press. One of
my characters, Keith Golder, appears in three stories, one at the
beginning, one in the middle and one at the end. This has the effect of
giving structure and continuity. As Bernadette herself said, these
stories will stand alone in any case, so that the order is not of
does the word "story"
mean to you?
my stories somebody changes, they change their ways or their attitude
or, if they fail to change, something usually happens to them. For
example, my character Keith Golder begins to understand what really
makes people tick. In Baz to the Slaughter Barry asks himself
where and what the soul is and concludes that it might not exist. In Wetton Mill John discovers what friendship is really about. A
short story is not just a sequence of events, first this happened,
then that happened. It’s really about some sort of change taking
place and a character achieving enlightenment.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
than having an image of a reader in my mind, I tend to think about
how the story would sound when read aloud or when produced in a
visual form. What drives me to write is the idea of being read by
others and of allowing them to see inside my head and to appreciate
my personal ‘take’ on the world.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
I would ask, will you read other work that I’ve produced and would
you read more of my short stories, if they were published?
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
not the buying, it’s the reading. For me, the process of serious
writing is not complete until someone picks it up and reads it. It’s
to do with the ‘therapy’ of having someone understand what you’re
trying to say to them. Writing is like trying to talk to someone
through a plate glass window.
What are you working on now?
still have enough material for two further anthologies of short
stories, one of which I think of as The Canaries Collection,
because each story is set on one of the Canary Islands, which were my
home for several years. The remainder are simply contemporary short
stories. The writing process continues every day.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
short stories of Guy de Maupassant, anything by W. Somerset Maugham
or D. H. Lawrence.