This is what a book launch should look like!
Kirsty, you were involved in editing the book as well as writing a story. What was that process like?
The important thing for me was putting them together into some sort of arc. With the only theme being that they were based in Nottingham or Nottinghamshire, there weren't immediate connections between the stories - they're quite eclectic.
Did you write 'One Black Eye, One Blue' especially for the anthology?
Yes, but it was actually based on a novel I started about eight or ten years ago. I realised the ideas I had for it could fit into a long short story, and also part of what I had in mind for the setting was the woods up near Blidworth, so I thought it would fit nicely.
David, your two stories are very stylistically diverse…
Eclectic themes and styles is certainly what I aim for at this stage. I hope to be able to come down to a more consistent style and subject matter if and when I ever achieve a following or reputation, but for now, I will try anything. I love writing, and like to experiment with different styles and genres. I like to think I could satisfy any potential commission from anyone; although whether that is true depends on whether I ever find any success with anything! For instance, the Nottingham Trams story was written to LeftLion's own affectionate subversive style of comedy, and it was great that an on-spec pitch resulted in publication. I've been enthusiastic about making a career in writing since I was a kid, and just want to try anything to make it happen. I also probably don't know enough about how to do this to have any other kind of plan...
And you’ve written a novel called 'Twenty Twenty'
It is a near-future conspiracy thriller, and comes from the point of view that corporations will stop at nothing to make profits. The narrative combines paranoia and addiction, corporate surveillance, together with fantasy virtual reality sequences, a 21st century love story and a VR climax involving zombies!
Kate, you’ve written a children's book…
“The Mozzal in my Wardrobe" is about an imaginary furry rodent called a mozzal who has adventures in the wardrobe with his friend the spider. At the moment I am collaborating with Alex MacNaughton to illustrate it. I hope to publish sometime soon.
Glen, I noticed a theme of delusion running through your stories. Is that something you consciously choose to write about?
I've never thought about it before but I guess I am intrigued by delusions, and it's a theme which does crop up in many of the tales in my book, "Fromage Afraid". One could argue that we're all deluded about one thing or another - religion, superstition, political ideals and even love. We're so keen for relationships to work that we will delude ourselves to the point of being at risk of heartbreak. You can't underestimate the power of wishful thinking.
Luiséadh, what were your influences in writing a science fiction piece like 'After the Storm'?
The inspiration for came from a line in a poem by Robert Calvert entitled "The Ten Seconds of Forever", which was used by Hawkwind on their Space Ritual album. I've always liked the science fiction/fantasy genres but I prefer stories where, no matter how huge or how tragic the situation, the focus is the impact on individuals. The idea behind 'After the Storm' was that, amid all the chaos and destruction, it's something really mundane, a pair of broken sunglasses, that finally enables the narrator to make an emotional connection to the tragedy.
Where do you go to write?
GK: I live in Arnold and the vast majority of my stories begin their lives in my local pubs, the Ernehale, The Friar Tuck, The Cross Keys and The Horse & Jockey. People are usually happy to leave a scribbling lunatic in peace!
LM: I mostly write at home, but I generally carry a notebook around with me in case inspiration strikes when I'm out and about. A fair amount of my work comes from the group meetings at the Malt Cross, though. The writing exercises are a really fertile ground for stories. Often, the resulting story doesn't bear a great deal of resemblance to the original exercise, but they seem to trigger something in the brain that gets the imagination working. Both of the stories I have in the book started as writing exercises in the group.
What do you find most interesting about Nottingham, in terms of sparking your imagination?
GK: Nottingham inspires me to write simply because it's my home but I'm sure I'd still write even if I was living in a tree house in Borneo, but I'm lucky to live in this great city.
DT: It is interesting because of a certain subversive undercurrent, coupled with a generally progressive political landscape which supports public transport, social initiatives, community projects and small-scale enterprises.
LM: I think the diversity of Nottingham is what really sparks the imagination - the contrast between old and new, beautiful and ugly. The Victoria clock tower in front of the Victoria Centre flats is a classic example which I used in 'After the Storm'. Nottingham is a busy, chaotic city, but it has its small havens of peace and quiet as well such as the Arboretum or the roof garden at the Sir John Borlase Warren.
How has being part of a writing group developed your writing style or confidence?
DT: Writing short stories to time from a short brief really exercises those writing muscles and encourages the imagination. Writing a story week-in week-out to read out and entertain develops your confidence simply by being able to do it. The instant stories we produce will often lead to more considered works at a later date. In terms of my writing style, it probably makes it more conducive to being performed, so it is becoming more conversational. We also talk about accepted techniques and styles. I am not a trained writer as such, and I write from enthusiasm and gut instinct for what works. This isn't always enough for the wider literary community, so I'm learning about certain conventions, which is changing my writing style for the better.
Money raised from the book is donated to the Nottingham
LM: Being part of a writing group has not necessarily had an impact on my writing style as such, but the feedback from other members of the group does help tighten up the stories so they have a greater impact. Having someone say 'that works really well, that doesn't come across so well' etc does help to develop your writing skills and improve your ability to get the message across. It has given me more confidence. The first few times I shared my work with the group were nerve-wracking. I was convinced that my work wasn't as good as anyone else's, that no-one would like it. Getting positive feedback from the group encouraged me to write more, and the more you write the better you get.
I don't think I would have had either the confidence or staying power to write a novel if it hadn't been for the group encouraging me to go for it. It's such a supportive environment that people feel confident in taking chances with their work and letting their imagination run free.
We always welcome new members, and if anyone wants to know more they can email me (the group secretary) at luiseadhm (at) btinternet.com