in Somerset, England. Her debut novel 20
Years Later is
scheduled for publication in July 2011 by Dystopia Press.
with Emma Newman
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Emma Newman: There's a good question! I'm
terrible at remembering time spans when it comes to writing, but if memory
serves I wrote the first one in July 2009, so taking into consideration the time
it took for the collection to be edited and published, the stories were written
over an 18 month period. During that time however, I got a publisher for my
debut novel, had editing to do on that, then wrote the first drafts of its
sequel and most of the final book in the trilogy, and accidentally started a
series of 53 flash stories (less than 1000 words) every week, so there was lots
of other fiction writing clamouring for attention apart from the short stories
in From Dark Places.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
EN: Never! I started writing short
stories again after a break of over fifteen years because I was triple-dared
into entering a short story competition online. To my complete surprise I won,
and got my current website design as a prize.
After that, I developed the idea
of my Short Story Club which
encourages me to produce a story a month, and I also started writing flash
fiction as part of the excellent Friday Flash community. When it came to the
point I realised I'd written enough to start forming an anthology, I realised
they already had a common theme; they all touch upon dark places in the human
psyche, and the anthology idea was born. The title comes from the first story I
wrote for the Short Story Club, which is also the first story in the
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
EN: I originally self-published an
e-book version with only 11 stories, and the only thought I gave to ordering was
alternating the longer stories with the flash fiction pieces.
In the lovingly edited (and more
than twice the size!) edition published by eMergent, Jodi and I discussed the
ordering in depth and whilst we kept the same idea of alternating story lengths,
we made sure that the order brought out the best in each story and kept the
reader fresh. Whilst we both agreed immediately that From Dark Places should
be the first story, we had a long discussion on which should be the last. We
agreed on Getting Fixed as it is one of stories my club readers said made them
laugh out loud, and even though it's black comedy, we wanted to leave the reader
in a lighter place at the end.
In both the self-published first
edition and this new edition, I chose the stories that I felt were the
strongest, and which had elicited the best feedback and reactions from club
members and members of the Friday Flash community.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
EN: A journey from a place of
curiosity to a place of satisfaction. I'm not saying that all stories end with
giving the reader all the answers, but there has to be some kind of
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
EN: I don't. Now I'm worrying that I
should! I'm led by gut instinct and once I have the core concept and the
characters in place, the story forms itself, with nary a care for who might end
up reading it.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
EN: You mean aside from caving in to
my pathetic writer ego and begging them to tell me if they liked it? I would
like to ask if they found the stories scary. I don't set out to write scary
stories, but many readers have talked about learning not to read them last thing
at night and having to leave the light on, and to be honest I've been quite
shocked. I suppose when you know what's coming, a lot of the fear is gone.
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
Exciting, wonderful, fulfilling
Seriously, I've worked for many
years to get published and finally being here is wonderful, but bringing your
work out into the world has been forcing me to face up to some big fears about
stepping forwards and being seen after years of deliberately hiding in the
What are you working on now?
EN: I'm steadily building a second
volume of From Dark Places, and finishing the last book in my 20 Years Later
trilogy (the first is being published in July). After that, and once all the
book launching madness has calmed down, I'm working on my next project which
will combine flash fiction with a trilogy of novels. And I have a secret plan
for my Short Story Club too!
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
EN: The Golden Apples of the Sun by Ray Bradbury, my writing hero, Looking for Jake by China Miéville (another hero
of mine) and German Popular Stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. That last one is
a gorgeous old hardback, a reprint of the original 1823 text. And it has that
old book smell…