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Annie Clarkson

Website: myspace.com/annieclarkson

Annie Clarkson is a poet, social worker and short story writer living in Manchester, UK.

Short story collections

Winter Hands (Shadowtrain, Oct 2007) 

Reviewed by Tania Hershman

Interview with Annie Clarkson

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

Annie Clarkson: I wrote them over a period of about two years while I was doing my MA in Creative Writing and the year after I finished. They are very short pieces of writing, and itís a very short collection. I have a full time job and they were written in the spaces between other parts of my life.

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

AC: Not at all, these short shorts or prose poems or micro fictions (whatever you want to call them) were indulgences and I had no idea what might become of them.

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

AC: I was helped by Ian Seed from Shadowtrain Books. He was interested in publishing a collection of my writing, and I sent him a bundle of work. We met in a coffee place in Lancaster one afternoon and he went through my manuscript and told me what he liked, what worked, what didnít. I took it away and worked on it for another month or two. I cut it down from about forty pieces, and then lay it all out on the floor and tried to find threads of connectionÖ themes, tones, voices, styles and did what instinctively felt right.

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

AC: Whatever a person wants to tell to another person, an anecdote, a remembrance, an insight, a reflection, a relaying of truths or lies. It is open to interpretation. I like the meaning of story to be very open-ended. There are more freedoms that way. I like experimental as well as traditional stories. I see these particular stories as "glimpses", brief insights or moments. They are not meant to be all encompassing. More like, pieces of a growing jigsaw. Stories are not always neat.

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

AC: Sometimes I write for individual people. Nobody would know who, but people I am close to, people in my life. Stories can sometimes help me to communicate to someone and itís my way of saying, this is what I am trying to say to you (although sometimes this is in an elliptical kind of way). Other times, I write for myself. I might write a story to understand something about life thatís difficult, or I use story as a means of exploring something incomprehensible or painful. Itís perhaps why there are recurrent themes in my writing, as I try and explore the same territory from differing angles. Also stories can be a way for me to record something I have experienced (first or second hand) for anyone who might remotely care.

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

AC: I suppose I might ask, did it mean anything to you?

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

AC: Odd/Nice. Actually, Iím not sure whether anyone is buying it. Itís not in the shops only online. People have to know itís there and go looking for it.

TSR: What are you working on now?

AC: Iím working on a full length collection of longer fiction. I also write keep writing these short fictions and prose poems. They are unavoidable.

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

AC: Jhumpa Lahiri Unaccustomed Earth, Padrika Tarrant Broken Things, Clare Wigfall The Loudest Sound and Nothing (the most beautiful collection I have read in years)