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Paul Meloy lives in Suffolk and is a psychiatric nurse.  His story Black Static won a British Fantasy Award in 2005 and this collection, was shortlisted for an award in 2009.


Short Story Collections

Islington Crocodiles
(TTA Press, 2008)

Reviewed by Pauline Masurel

Interview with Paul Meloy

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

Paul Meloy: About thirteen years. Although there were big gaps between the first few stories; I wrote the latter ones more quickly. Now I’m up to about two stories a year! I’m growing in confidence, you see.

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

PM: Not at first. I sold The Last Great Paladin of Idle Conceit to TTA press when I was 30. Then nothing for about three years. I thought at the time, oh well, that’s it then. As other ideas came, and the time to write them, I realised that there was the possibility that I might not be a one trick pony and eventually I was encouraged to put them all together and see about getting them out as a collection. You can blame Tim Lebbon.

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

PM: I thought it would make sense with a first collection to include them in chronological order of publication. I left out a story called Care In the Continuum, which was published in TTA because it didn’t really fit the tone of the book.

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

PM:  That’s a deceptively simple question. I was asked a similarly straightforward question by my friend Charlie Williams for a one-shot interview on his blog. He asked a lot of writers the same question and achieved his objective of getting a rich and varied set of responses. Some were one or two word answers and some were half a page, but they were all absolutely right in their own way. I’ll include what he asked, and what I said, as part of the answer to your question:
    
"When it's going well, what does writing feel like for you?"

I am an utterly commonplace man. I lack drive and any ability to lift me much beyond the merely average. I can be cowardly and irritable and isolative and proud. I've never been able to commit to much and tend towards a self-indulgent existential futility. It's a real effort to do things. But. When I write; when it takes off: I'm a fucking god.

Well, I can’t do that if there’s no story. I can’t take off without one. Stories give me a chance to get in amongst words, to kick them about and hold them up to the light. When the story takes off, when it starts that magical accumulation of pace and momentum then something profound and unstoppable happens. I’m able to transcend my mundane, self-limiting existence and it’s like riding a very clean, rarefied trip from a spotless, uncut drug.

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

PM:  Over the years I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of nice people say kind things about my stuff. Many of them have become my friends and continue to support and guide me as I continue to write. So I guess I write for them, or in the hope of pleasing them at least.
 

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

PM: Without sounding too needy, the one thing you really want to ask is, did you enjoy it? Or, conversely, was it shit?

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

PM: It’s a great feeling. Thrilling. My good friend Roy Gray, who works tirelessly and selflessly for TTA Press, always makes a point of coming up to me at a convention, or emailing me after he’s been on one of his trips, to tell me how it’s doing. "Sold another one, Paul,”"he’ll say.

TSR: What are you working on now?

PM: I’ve just finished a 20,000 word novella called Dogs With Their Eyes Shut. So I’m tidying that up at the moment. And I’ve got a few other pieces in various stages of completion. 

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

PM: The British Fantasy Society Year Book, British Invasion and Call if you Need Me by Raymond Carver.
 
                     
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Find out what other authors, from Aimee Bender to Sana Krasikov, said about their collections, what the word "story" means to them, and how it feels to know that people are buying your books! More interviews >>>



Other Interviews:

The Fix
Black Static