How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Chapman: More or less all of the first drafts were
written fairly fast, with lots of revision and rewriting later. The
first to be written was Wake,
in 1992. The rest of them followed at various times during the
nineties, with the exception of Return of the Empress
which I wrote in 2005, in response to a request from Richard Peabody,
who was editing an anthology called Sex and Chocolate.
That story was pretty much done by the time it appeared in Richard's
book. Still, I didn't stop writing them just because they were
"finished", so to speak. Every so often, I'd take one or another of
them out and do a polish. Burning
the Bed came pretty quickly, over a weekend in 1998, and
it was published in 2001 in the Irish Times. However, that got
redrafted a little even after that. It was filmed, from my script, in
2003, with Gina McKee and Aidan Gillen. That was an interesting
experience, seeing how the story became something else in another
medium. In fact, most of these stories were published in various places
over the years, but I still continued to revise. When Bluechrome took
the collection, I spent another year polishing and editing. I think
they're done now.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
At first, no. I was simply trying to make each
story as an object in itself. I didn't think about a book until later.
The collection as such began to evolve in the late nineties.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
the time it came to do a collection, it was pretty obvious which
stories were working better than others. Also, many of these pieces
seem to be about relationships of one kind or another: lovers breaking
up, a father with his daughter, a painting with its creator, a boy and
his strange, mystical uncle, and so on. Burning the Bed
felt like a good story to open with, and Return of the Empress
seemed to give a pretty emphatic ending.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
really, at least not on a conscious level.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
I'd like that someone who reads one of my books gets a kick out of it.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
It's a good feeling that people are buying them and reading them. A
writer doesn't work in isolation in the sense that, although the work
is done alone, when it goes out there to the reader, whoever that may
be, it becomes something else. All pieces of fiction are eventually a
collaboration between the writer and the reader in the sense that the
reader brings his or her own life to the experience of the story.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
I've just finished two collections of poetry, which I worked on during
the same period in which I wrote these stories. The first, Breaking Hearts and Traffic
Lights, came out in October from Salmon Poetry. The
Shopping Mall on Mars, will appear from BlazeVOX this
Spring. I'm writing a novel, now in its final draft (so far), which
I've been doing for the last five years or so. It's a romantic comedy