Brian, your short story “Five Feet Away” appeared in Issue Two of The Literary Commune. It fitted perfectly with the remit out of our lowly magazine – being such a transgressive story. Would you consider yourself to be a writer of transgressive fiction, or is your output more eclectic than that?
Some of the stories that I have written could fall under that bracket. I guess writing damaged characters with a dark side appeals to me for some reason, but I wouldn’t say that all of my output is it exclusively transgressive fiction. Different genres appeal to me and I’m toying around with writing a story with some supernatural elements to it, and even one that could possibly appeal to younger readers.
Tell us how you write, how you get focused on the task.
Sometimes, it can be as easy as sitting down with the laptop and typing words onto a blank screen. Other times, I have to convince myself that I don’t need to see that particularly bad episode of Friends for the 15th time and coax myself into turning off the internet connection. When I manage that much, I try to set myself a goal of writing 3,000 words, but truthfully, I’m happy if I manage a third of that. I’m also a member of a writing group that meets up once a month, which has been invaluable in keeping me focused to produce something on a regular basis.
We understand you have a novel underway. Anything you can tell us about it?
It’s a dark humoured story about a man in his early twenties who feels that his old school friends, who are busy with successful professional and love lives, have abandoned him. He starts to resort to some pretty extreme measures to bring that all to an end for them to keep them in his life. The story gets quite Machiavellian at times, but that’s all part of the dark humour that I’ve tried to maintain throughout it. I’m completely finished with it now after several re-writes, and I’ve started working on another novel, so maybe it’s time to take the plunge and start submitting it to agents and publishers.
Are you able to continue writing shorts while you work on your novel?
To be honest, I don’t have a vast amount of short stories completed. I tend to concentrate and flesh out longer stories that work better as novels. I would only write a short story if a certain hook or plot occurred to me that would only ever work as a short. But I do have a couple more lying around in a pile somewhere. But when I’m working on the novel, that’s what I tend to focus on.
Who is your favourite writer, the one you admire the most, the one who inspired you to be become a writer even?
It’s hard to pin down a single favourite writer. I enjoy the works of many, ranging from the likes of JRR Tolkein, George Orwell, Stephen King and Roddy Doyle to name a few from the top of my head. But as a kid, I was obsessed with Roald Dahl. I guess his dark and twisted humour seen in children’s books like The Witches, The Twits and The BFG appealed to the ten year old me. I remember writing my own horror stories in my school copybooks trying to channel him, so he can definitely be credited with inspiring me to become a writer. As I got older, I was very pleased to discover that he had written some extremely dark short stories for older readers containing some great twists. People should check them out.
Bizarre snap questions time (currently or favourite):-
Currently drinking? I’m sipping on a glass of Coke Zero right now.
Currently eating? Some re-heated Chinese food. Yes, I’m disgusting.
Currently reading? I’m roughly a quarter the way through A Storm Of Swords at present
Currently listening to? My ‘Recently Played’ list tells that the last thing I listened to was White Fox, an album by a great Irish indie rock band called Ham Sandwich.
Currently driving? A thirteen year old Ford Focus. It hasn’t given me a day’s trouble.
What do you think of low-budget magazines such as The Literary Commune, and the role they have to play in helping lesser-known writers to get their work “out there”?
I think that they are be a great way to get a writer’s work out to a readership in a manner that is beyond their control. You never know who could be reading and taking notice.
Any advice or encouragement you would give to other writers, whether their stuff is being read or being hidden away in a bottom drawer somewhere?
Get your work out there and have it read by friends, family members and acquaintances. Ask to get them to give you honest feedback and try not to be offended by what they might have to say. If a few of them point out the same criticisms, they could be on to something. Just don’t be afraid to ‘kill your darlings’ in order to perfect your work before submitting for competitions or publication. And if you are completely happy with what have you produced, well what are you waiting for?
Thanks, Brian, and we're looking forward to reading your novel!