Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In Conversation with Grey Freeman

Today Grey Freeman, one of the Something Wicked volume #2 anthology authors is stopping by for a little Q&A, so without further ado...

Tell us a little about your short story for Something Wicked volume 2.

Promises is a bitter-sweet story about a man who is visited at night by his dead fiancĂ©e  who died the week before their wedding. I wanted it to be about love and sex and how the latter is one of the most profound ways to express the former. But, you know, without being all sleazy and stuff. As far as I know I succeeded. I once sent around an early draft to people in my office and included the new girl to make her feel welcome. I was worried it would freak her out! Luckily it didn't (probably saving on a trip to HR). Instead we discussed the story and sometimes we still do, though it's a lot easier now, seeing as how we live together. There are few authors, I think, who can point to a story and say, that one got me the love of my life!

What gets you writing? Tell us a little bit more about your approach.

I love telling stories and you eventually have to stop letting your imagination run away with you, stop babbling things that don't make sense to anyone else and commit them to paper. I write an hour in the morning before
work and an hour after. Then I do six hours over the weekend. First draft is when I'm striking out into the wilderness with a handful of ideas and characters. Then once I've covered the ground and found out what the story was about I go back and refine everything so that it's all pointing in the right direction. Characters first and foremost are key. If the reader doesn't like your characters then they won't care about the story.

What do you think are particular challenges associated with short stories as a form? As for longer works, do you have anything planned? 

With short stories you need to be precise, you need to get to the point as soon as possible while still allowing some room for the reader to get into the narrative, getting to know the character and appreciate his or her dilemma. So many things are about context and you need to be very quick to the point of emotional short-hand to get that across in 5,000 words. You have a bit more luxury to take your time with a novel.

Speaking of novels, I've just swept the ashes of my last attempt from the desk. It went around agents and though it got a little interest, sadly, it didn't get enough. I'm now working on a new one that's currently called End of the Line (that will definitely change). It's a supernatural thriller and I've set myself the challenge of having it mostly set in a single room. It's shaping up well so far, I have a literary agent still interested in me from the last endeavour and I'm off for coffee with an editor who's worked on quite a best-sellers in his time to discuss it. It's scaring the pants off me!

What's the one short story or novel you keep going back to (we all have them), and what makes it stand out above all the rest?

The book that immediately springs to mind for me is A Big Boy Did it and Ran Away by Christopher Brookmyre. On the surface its a thriller of an everyman against terrorists but Brookmyre is happy to break the rules and spends entire chapters outlining each major character's life story but he does it with such wit and charm that you can't help but be swept along. The theme of the story essentially rails against the 'ordinary' life. Why be a family man with a wife and screaming baby when you could be a secret agent? By the finale, you're about to give up your day job and then the author deftly points out 'that's why' and you're suddenly super pleased to be a normal person. Love it.

What scares you?

Plenty of things. I'm scared of spending my whole life in an office, either never having a book published or having a book published but never earning enough to become a full-time author, it's certainly happened to plenty of current authors. I'm also terrified of becoming a full-time author and being incredibly lonely and unhappy in it. I'm a people person! And a worrier, it seems.

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