David Gardiner is an ex-pat Irishman
living and writing from London. His first listed published work is
science fiction. This is Mr. Gardiner's second collection of short
stories featuring Rainbow Man, a story-telling man about town. You will
note David’s brave sense of humor and humanity immediately when you are
greeted at his website by a photograph of Osama bin Laden.
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
David Gardiner : I
have been writing short stories regularly at the rate of about one or
two a month, making use of the UKAuthors.com writers' website and an
on-line writers' group called Storyshed to get feedback and polish them
up. I also go on regular writers holidays and retreats where I can get
peer feedback and support, and even, if I'm lucky, inspiration. The
stories in this collection were all written since my first collection
was published in 2002, so they were written over a six year period.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
DG: It wasn’t foremost
in my mind, as I managed to find homes for most of them individually in
small press publications or as competition entries, but I knew that I
wanted to bring out another collection at some point.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
DG: I think the
basis of selection was quite simply the ones I was most happy with
myself and which had received the best response when they were
published individually. As to the order, I didn't have any strong
feelings about that and took advice from Daffni Percival at Merilang
Press and others as to the best way to present them. The only one that
needed to be at the front of the collection was the one called The
Other End of the Rainbow, because that one sets up a link that runs
through all the stories and holds the collection together. A reviewer
compared it to the device used in Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man,
which I think is a valid comparison.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
very good question. I have a conventional view of this, I want my
stories to have beginnings, middles and ends and to be descriptive
accounts of events taking place. I don't go in very much for 'experimental' forms, or little snapshots of life without much
narrative content or theme. I don't mind if other people want to write
and to read that kind of work but it isn't what I do. I believe that a
good short story should leave the reader with something to think about
after the book has been closed. It should raise questions rather than
answer them, it should present a parable to which the reader can relate
and find meaning, whoever he or she may be. I don't want to spoon feed
my readers, I want to confront and stimulate them to think and react to
the material that I give them and interpret it for themselves. I have
often compared the short story to the quick pen sketch where things are
just suggested and all the details have to be filled in in the viewer's
imagination. The novel is the big painting in oils where every detail
is laid down and complete. Sketches and short stories are essentially
incomplete, they are completed in the imagination of the reader. They
make demands of the reader's imagination and creativity which novels
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
No, I don't write for any particular kind of person. Just somebody who
is willing to engage with the material that I am presenting and join
with me in the creative process. I assume that my readers will be
intelligent and insightful and want to consider the questions that I am
raising. Otherwise why would they bother with my work?
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
DG: Lots of things.
Did any of my stories affect you emotionally? Did any of them make you
angry or sad or make you laugh out loud? Did any of them make you think
about some aspect of life in a completely new way? Did any of them give
you a bit more self knowledge, perhaps reveal a prejudice of which you
were not aware, or see something in your own character or behaviour
that you hadn't noticed or thought about before? Did any of them make
you think about the way you relate to other people, or what things are
important in life and what things are not? When you had finished
reading the book, which of the stories if any were still buzzing around
in your head, and why? Did we make contact of some kind, you and I,
through these little tales? Did we share something of our personalities
and our humanity?
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
course it feels good if they are buying it, more importantly I am
pleased if people are reading it and if it's making an impact of some
kind in how they see the world and live their lives.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
I never stop writing short stories, so it's very much business as
usual. When I retire, which will be in about three years, I want to
return to a great mass of material that I wrote when I was much younger
about my student days in Belfast in the late 1960s/early 1970s, when
the most recent wave of ‘troubles' was just starting up, and try to
turn it into either a novel or a collection of linked short stories,
really about my own growing up and rites of passage in a war zone. I've
tried to do something with this material many times, and have ‘mined'
it for one or two short stories, but I think it would be worth knocking
it into shape properly, and I think of it as my big retirement project.
As every writer knows, writing is 90% re-writing, and this material is
mostly good (in my opinion) but needs a big rewrite.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
a very precise question, and I wouldn't consider these the best I have
ever read or anything like that, just the three I have read most
recently. My answer is further skewed by the fact that I act as a
volunteer editor for a couple of small press publishers and therefore
work with other small time writers on getting their books ready for
publication. The three most recent I find are:
Truckerson by John Griffiths (bluechrome, 2007)
UKAuthors Anthology: Voices from the Web 2008 (UKA Press, 2008)
The Procession by Theron Montgomery (UKA Press, 2005)