Paul Magrs is a prolific writer with credits ranging from Doctor Who to the Times Literary Supplement. His latest novel is Hell’s Belles (Headline, 2009), part of the Brenda and Effie Gothic Mystery series.

Short Story Collections

Twelve Stories
(Salt Publishing, 2009)

reviewed by Elizabeth Rutherford-Johnson

Playing Out
(Vintage, 1997)

Interview with Paul Magrs

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Paul Magrs: Twelve years. The oldest are ones I was writing when I first moved to UEA to start lecturing there… and the most recent are from 2010. They’re spaced out evenly, I think, through the gap between.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

PM: I always have an eventual collection in mind, I think. But each one was for a particular commission. I’d like some day to sit down and write a whole collection, as a thing in itself. That’d be a fine thing to do.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

PM: A lot of shuffling and rereading. Nothing more sophisticated than that! Making sure that things didn’t clatter, rhyme, repeat or contradict too much. Looking and listening for the chimes.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

PM:  Keeping an ear out. Holding the attention of everyone sat round you. Something plucked out of the air. Making it look easy.

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

PM:  Actually, I don’t. Probably a varied gaggle of faces I know, sitting round listening.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

PM: Do you want to hear some more?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

PM: That always feels incredible. Humbling.

TSR: What are you working on now?

PM: I’m writing my next novel for Headline Review… and another one for another publisher – juggling the Gothic with one hand and science fiction with the other… and exploring bits of stories in my journals.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

PM: Rereads! My favourites – Georgina Hammick, Shena Mackay and Sara Maitland. All of them just brilliant.
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