How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Salway:They were started during my MA in Writing in 1998,
and then written over roughly a four year period. Most were published
in magazines or anthologies during this time.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
Not initially, although a few of the stories
included were written for a particular themed collection which I
didn’t complete in the end. This is because one of the
stories from this collection took off and became the basis of my first
Beginning With. I didn’t want to lose the other
stories I’d already written though, and besides I like the
idea of revisiting characters in different situations. I’ve
been doing this with some of my recent stuff. Little Malcolm in The Quiet Hour, for
instance, now has his own story when he’s all grown up! I
think I’d been reluctant to do this in case it showed I had
run out of ideas, but it feels like the opposite. There’s a
sense of knowing someone which is freeing for writing.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
It was hard – I veered from wanting
to include everything I’ve ever written to thinking that
nothing I’d produced was good enough! Eventually, I picked
the stories I was still interested in reading myself. Some seemed to be
complete and finished. As for order, I tried to include a variety of
pov’s, lengths and styles. It’s funny because I
never read the stories in a collection one after the other, but I
definitely spent a long time working out how it would work if someone
read it that way.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
It depends. A very few of my stories are written for different people
– maybe because of something they’ve said
that’s triggered an idea or because they’ve asked
me to, but most times I don’t think consciously about the
‘reader’ during the writing process. That would be
too inhibiting. I do show my stories to trusted readers though after
I’ve finished them, and value their comments, but the editing
process is completely different from writing.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
went through a stage of feeling sick when I knew someone had read my
work in case they didn’t like it, or thought I was
‘odd’. But now I’ve come to terms with
the fact that there will always be some people who won’t like
my stuff and also that I am definitely ‘odd’ !
There’s not much I can do about it, so am just happy when
people tell me they’ve enjoyed and/or got something out of
reading my stories. Mind you, I’ve recently come back from a
residency in America, and met a writer there who I immensely admire.
She read my stories, and I was desperate to ask her how she thought my
new work – currently unpublished – was developing
in comparison to my old stuff. Sometimes it’s good to have
this kind of outside eye.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
Amazing. What more of a privilege is there than someone not just
spending their money on your work but their time too? I’m
TSR: What are
you working on now?
I’ve just had a break from novel 3 to work on a radio play
and some short pieces. I’ve also been trying my hand at
creative non-fiction, and am really excited by this – it
seems a good hybrid between my journalism background and my fiction
writing. But for now, it’s back to the novel.