In this episode, we speak to Teo Eve, Lindz McLeod, and Laura Besley.
We also review Kissing Dynamite's latest issue (issue 34) and highlight Abdulkareem Abdulkareem (Panini), Ashley Cline, Zoë Fay-Stindt, Daniel Liu, Nicole Arocho Hernández, Kaleigh O'Keefe, Ami Patel, and Emma Younger.
Hello, and welcome back to the full House podcast. On this week's episode we're going to speak to Teo, Lindz and Laura um, some fantastic writers really interesting stories to tell about their journeys and about their writing. And we're going to start off by chatting to Teo. So a bit about Teo has a forthcoming collection from Penteract Press coming in 2022, Teo is editor of Silly Goose Press, which is a micro poetry press. And Teo is just a fantastic writer. I've been following Teo for a while and seeing, you know, gorgeous work pop up on my timeline written by Teo. So I'm really excited to find out a bit more about how Teo writes and a bit about, you know, Teo's writing story. So hi, Teo, how are you?
Hello, yeah, I'm good. Thank you. How is it going?
Really well, thank you. And I'm really excited to have a chat with you and find out a bit more about yourself and your writing. So to begin with, you just want to introduce yourself and tell us maybe about how you got started on your journey.
Yeah, so I'm Teo. I am a poet, and something of a fiction writer, even though I'm not sure if I can really qualify to call myself that yet. But I'm trying. So I've been writing for years. I know, it's a bit of a cliche to say, but I've genuinely been writing for like, as long as I can remember. I was having a conversation with a friend about this, not too long ago. And I was saying to them that like I think I actually, you know, started like really writing before I started really reading, I wasn't really a big reader as a kid at all. I went on to do English at university, and I fell in love with books like novels and poetry, obviously. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here. But even when I was like, much, much younger, I remember used to, like, you know, love writing stories all the time. Not that they were necessarily like good stories or anything, because I wasn't, you know, reading anything. But that was a passion that sort of stayed with me my whole life, I do think I probably spent more time writing poetry now than anything else. For quite a few years, I wanted to be a fiction writer, I still write fiction. But poetry is my focus at the moment. But poetry really is something that I didn't kind of like get into until later. So I've been writing poetry for a few years. And I started off really, and I know quite a few poets who have said this actually so it's interesting, I started off like writing song lyrics, when I was about, I don't know, maybe 15 or 16, because I was, you know, really into music. And I really, really, really wanted to be in a band. So I started writing lyrics. And then I realized that I'm not a good musician. I really enjoyed writing like, sort of short form verse. And so I wanted to carry on with that and see if I could do something with that, this like irregardless of whether there was music. And turns out poetry is a thing. So that sort of like shifted into me writing poetry. But I didn't really take writing poetry seriously until a couple of years ago. So I've been writing poetry quite consistently, since I was like 18 or so. And I took Creative Writing modules at university, Creative Writing poetry modules, and wrote poetry mainly for this modules while I was at university. But I didn't really feel like I had a style or anything, I didn't really know who my influences were, I was reading a very limited amount of like a very limited range of poetry. Because, as you know, I'm very involved in like, the poetry scene in Twitter, and I find out most about most of the poets I like on Twitter. But back at that age, I didn't really know there was like a thriving literary community on Twitter. So it's just like, reading all of the poetry books that you sort of, like expected to read either on my course or just like, you know, this stuff published by Faber and Faber and all of the other big names and poetry publishing. I didn't really connect with any of it. And even though I was writing poetry, sort of like in imitation of these kind of like, the more mainstream poets, I didn't really feel like my work in that style was good at all. I wrote it for fun, but nothing I wrote like before 2019 or maybe even 2020 had any like value. I think there's only really while I was doing my masters that I sort of like stumbled on almost by accident into like imagism. And, you know, the oulipian movement that I really started to sort to develop a style of my own and find out what poetry I like, but there are so so so many like really impressive people in the poetry scene today. And there are like a few people in particular I really like just like to give a shout out to and I'm sure that most podcast listeners like know about them. And but the first will be, of course, Nikki Dudley, managing editor of streetcake, who, you know, streetcake Magazine ran by Nikki and Trini has been one of the like, sort of, like strongholds of experimental poetry in the UK scene over the last I think, decade. And I think, you know, we are incredibly lucky to be like writing and reading experimental poetry now because there's so many outlets for it. But I remember listening to podcasts in interviews with Nikki, where she said that like when she started to eat cake with Trini, there weren't that many spaces like that, or but Nikki has been such a champion of experimental writing in general. But she's also just been such a incredible supportive figure, to me personally, as well. So I just like to give her a shout out and her poetry is amazing, too. She's a novelist, her novel volta, which was published in 2021, won the Virginia Prize for Fiction. She's got two book our with Beir Bua press this year. And she's just an amazing poet, truly an inspiration for me in terms of her writing, and her engagement with the community. And then I'd also love to give a shout out to Anthony Etherin, who is the editor of Penteract Press, a wonderful, wonderful poet, one of the first poets I really got into when I found out about sort of, like, conceptualism and Oulipo. He writes, some he does some truly magical things with language by employing a lot of constraints to his poetry. His collection, Slate petals, which came out this year with penteract press, is one of the best things I've ever read. And I really encourage anyone that listening to this podcast, check out Anthony's work. And when I found out what poetry I like, then I realized there were like, you know, long traditions of things that interest me. And the more I learned about those traditions, the better my poetry sort of became.
Absolutely no, thank you so much for telling us a bit about your journey and how you got into writing, I always think it's really interesting to see what paths people are and how that sets them into the path of writing. And I can definitely relate to a lot of what you said there, I'd be really interested to know, if there are any sort of themes within your work, or if every piece tends to be a bit different. You know, what your work sort of gravitates around?
I try to write about different things. I've spent, like the better part of the last year, writing from mainly, like, poetry inspired by imagism and more, you know, the oulipian movement, and conceptual poetry. And weirdly enough, I've started like writing confessional poetry lately, which is almost like the polar opposite of all of that. So I don't know if that's just like a cleanse, or if that's something that I'm going to like, explore later, it's something I've only really started writing, I never really did much confessionism before. So that's given me an opportunity to write about different things from what I would usually write about. But generally, everything comes back down to language itself. So I'm very interested in the idea of how poetry like presents the use of language, because you know, language is as fundamental to poetry, as paint is to a painting, poetry that like sort of foregrounds the use of language has always been interesting to me. And there are so many contemporary, one of the great things about like poetry in the 21st century, or I suppose you're living through a period of time in general, is that you can see, you know, when you're like studying poetry, in school, or at university, and historical movements are sort of like neatly packaged into genres, like this is what poetry was like in the 19th century. This is what poetry was like an 18th century. Maybe we've got a wider range of contemporary practices now than any other historical period, due to like globalization and the internet. But we can really see a range of like, genres and movements happening in the 21st century with a wide range of different inspirations. And in conjunction with that there are so many conversations out about like, what the purpose of poetry is, what's poetry for, you know, some people like to say that poetry actually has like, quite an active social role to play. While I don't necessarily abide by any one school of thought in terms of this, I am very interested in how sort of like poetry presents itself. I think that manifests in my work. Because I just keep on coming back to like writing poems that draw attention to the fact that they are poems by speaking about what they're doing, which on paper sounds quite like meta and abstract. But of course, to write a good poem, you know, I tried to sort of tie that in with like a concrete imagery. And this sort of practice sort of like manifested in my upcoming release with the penteract press called the ox house, which is due to be released summer next year, 2022. And it's sort of like an exploration of, you know, my interest in language and poetry, in its most pure form. So the ox hosue is a like experimental poetry collection. And I use experimental in the broadest possible way. Every poem is a different sort of experiment. But lots of these, lots of the poems in the collection, you know, have completely untraditional forms. And each poem is named after a letter in the English alphabet, with a couple of like, extra surprises, too. So it's sort of a love letter to the basic building blocks with which we build poetry
Yeah, it's, it's something that I've been like sort of working on for a while. So I got really into, I went to an exhibition at the British Library a couple of years ago called I think it was, make your mark, I think that's what it was called, in 2019. And it was basically an exhibition about the history of writing systems. And I found it so fascinating. Like, I didn't realize that you know, the letters, the majority of letters we use in English, have like direct lineages that you can trace back to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. And that still blows my mind because, like, we look at ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, and they seem so obtuse and like, hard to understand. And their cultural context seems so removed from our own. But the majority of the letters that we use in English, or like very many of them, if not quite the majority, are directly descended from English from Egyptian hieroglyphs. So the collection started a bit like a celebration of that. But when I first started writing it, I think I started writing it, like I started writing the first few poems for either towards the end of 2019, or, like, early 2020. But I didn't really have a voice for it yet. So I ended up writing a bunch of like, terrible, terrible lyric poems that are basically like individual offerings, and individual letters, and but they were not good, like, they were not good at all, I had the concept in my mind for ages. And I knew I wanted to see the concept, but I didn't really have the tools at my disposal, then to realize my vision. And so it's only when I really got into like, you know, reading what might be called experimental poetry, that I realized that the best way to sort of celebrate the arbitrary nature of like letters, and the role that they play in constructing poetry, is to write poems that are really quite strange and really, like draw our attention to the shapes of the letters and make readers consider the relationship between the letters on the page, the sound that they create.
Really fascinating to hear about the way that these pieces are formed. And so how do you edit these pieces? Like, what's your process, like?
It was weird, like writing this collection, because I knew what all of the poems had to be about, what they were going to be called, before I wrote them, I knew that each one will correspond to a letter of the alphabet. And one of the reasons the first attempt at this, the lyrical attempt at this collection failed so badly was because all of the poems ended up like sounding the same. It was basically the same thing, you know, the same concept, just applied to different letters. So I wanted to make sure that when I went to revisit it, after I, you know, learned a bit more about different types of poetry, had a better idea of how to realize this vision, I wanted to ensure that every single poem was different. So no, two poems in the collection, like use the same form or have the same structure. It was challenging editing it because, you know, at first I wanted to sort of like write poems that sort of like, match the letters, personalities, or reveal certain things about the letters. At first, I was really interested in like, the actual physical shape of the letters. So I wrote quite a few like concrete pieces to start with that looked like the shape of the letters. But then I realized quite quickly, that I couldn't have a blanket approach to these poems about letters because every letter has different have different histories. And, you know, at one point, I was negotiating with the idea of like writing poems that explored the history of different letters, but then there are some letters that have like such a similar history that are so closely related that you can only really do that once. So if I wanted to explore the history of individual letters, I would have ended up writing the same poem like five times, so that, so I sort of like loosened all of the guidelines I set for myself when I was writing this collection and decided that you know what, it's okay for these poems to be different. So some of the poems are explicitly about the history of the letters, some of them explore the shape of the letters, some of them explore the sort of like arbitrariness of the sound that they create. And yeah, when I was editing it, I really wanted to make sure that there was like quite a diverse range of forms throughout the collection, so that no two poems are the same. And was a very different like writing an editorial process from what I'm used to. Because when I'm writing poems, now, I always write in the context of a collection. You know, I find that I keep on coming back to the same ideas throughout my works. And I start every poem, not knowing where it's going to end up, not knowing how it's going to look, not knowing what it is going to be called, not knowing where it's gonna go into collection. And it's very different when you know what each of the poems have to be. And then you need to sort of like write for an end product in mind.
It was really interesting to hear a bit more about that. And something I found really interesting you said was about, and something that sort of came up that sort of struck me about that was about, you know, projects, sometimes we have ideas, and sometimes they just don't work, sometimes we need to evolve them, and they end up so much better than what they were before. And you do sort of sometimes just have to be a bit open to ideas changing, but it can be really hard, and how would you recommend for anyone to sort of know when something's not working, and be open to sort of evolving that and adjusting that.
I think that it's important for writers to remember that, just because a poem doesn't feel right now, or collection doesn't feel right now, it doesn't mean that it never would. And that if you are like editing or adjusting poems or collections, you don't need to lose your previous work, you can, you know, copy and paste them and save them in a different file in your computer and come back to them later when you're ready. And so I think, you know, when you're letting go of poems that don't quite work, you don't really need to let them go. Like, no one needs to delete the like, draft that they have on their desktop, no one needs to like, shred the paper that they've written on in their notepad, some of the main skills that go into being an artist are very little to do with the art itself. But like skills of resilience, you know, resilience from rejections, resilience from knowing that sometimes you are going to pour hours and hours and hours into a project, and decide that it's not actually working in its current form. But an important lesson to take away from that is that, you know, no time spent creating art is wasted. Even if you scrap some poems and never go back to them, and you never publish them. Even if you scrap the entire collections, you would have learned so much in the process, or process of putting together those collections, and you will take what you've learned forward. But yeah, it's like, you don't need to ditch things entirely. I didn't touch the manuscript that will go into becoming the ox house for like a year. And I wrote another collection or like, I started writing another collection, which doesn't have a publisher. And, and then I went back to the ox house, and I spent, you know, months on the ox house, and I'm going back to the other collection that started in the interim. And there are some more like, half completed collections or like pamphlets I've got saved that are on the back burner for now. But I'm not scrapping them, I'm just waiting to go back to them. When I know that, you know, when I know that I that I have the energy to go back to them. Or when I feel like I finally figured out how to do them.
Right. For sure. I really like that. I think that's a really important point to sort of remember that losing something is not always just losing, you can be gaining and sometimes a piece, something needs to happen in your life, or you need to have taken some distance to go and go back to it for it to become what it is. I think that's something that I often forget as a writer that we can do that. That's that's like a part of the process and a really important one really.
Yeah, absolutely. I think as artists, we've got like such a tendency to be so hard on ourselves as well. And I think, you know, we need to learn to not be. We need to learn to be kind to ourselves like in our daily lives but also in terms of the production of art. And ultimately, I think, all of even if like, in a world where, you know, you're expected to submit poetry and you want to get people read in your poetry, and you know, poetry is, to some extent commercialized, even if like not anywhere near the same scale, it's like other art forms. Despite all of the other like noise that goes into producing poetry in the 21st century, we all know beneath that, that we're doing get out of the love of it.
Absolutely, for sure. And something else I wanted to ask you about is, I mean, Twitter is a fantastic place. So many opportunities are created. So many new work is discovered and found. But there is some another side of where you can feel really overwhelmed being on Twitter and seeing constantly, every time you refresh, a new book out, a new piece. And if you haven't been producing work, it can make you feel like more anxious, and, like you're not doing what you should be. I wondered if you had any tips around that and how to not feel so pressured about what other writers and artists are doing around you?
Yeah, I mean, it's, it's definitely a, it's definitely a difficult one, because it's the same as you know, being on social media and your everyday life. You know, like, the same way, if you log on to Instagram, and you know, you go through the stories, and it seems like everyone you know, is like going out and having a great time, or they're on holidays, or like they're doing stuff with their friends. And you're sat at home scrolling through Instagram, a lot of the times scrolling down a Twitter feed, when you see, like so many posts that you like, you know, personally, or like you admire their work, they've got new books out constantly, they've got new, like, articles out constantly, they've got new poems out constantly, it takes a while to sort of, like, get published or get, quite often, you know, almost everyone who you see who's posting about, like, how they've got a new book out, maybe it's like, you know, the third book in so many years, there would have been a time at that, like in their career, where they would have been looking at other artists, where they would have been, like true dreaming about, like, having this sort of, like reputation they have now. I don't really feel like any sort of like envy anymore, because I'm like, happy at the position that I am now, in terms of like my writing career. I definitely did when I first started, like getting started. But I recognize them that like that was like maybe a bit of a naive thing to feel. Because, you know, I just started I couldn't expect to like fall into publication straightaway. But I think there was a sort of like, healthy, aspirational level to to, you know, and one of the great things about being a poet in the 21st century, is that new presses and new journals, and new magazines are cropping up all of the time. And that just means that there's more space for publication for more people. So the opportunities are always there, the number of opportunities are like constantly growing. So that's something that if I ever do feel like oh, maybe I'm not doing enough, or like, maybe I'm not being published enough that is something I tell myself, I also tell myself that, you know, it's okay. Like, if we, you know, the more time we spend time worrying about a work not being read, the less time we're spending, writing, and reading and writing and reading are ultimately the best part of all of this.
Absolutely, definitely agree with you, I think that's a really, really solid advice. And so you've touched on this a little bit, but I'd love to hear a bit more about some of your current writing and current projects.
Yeah. So I've got quite a few on, very guilty of always having way too many. But I've got three main ones that I'm focusing on, which is good, because for most of the last year, I had about 12 nebulous ones, I wasn't really sure what they were, but now I know what these three ones are. So I mentioned that I've been writing this other collection like sort of like a long side of the ox house. It's called colorless green ideas at the minute, working title, not been published yet. It's something that I've been working on for a very long time. Actually, I think I first started like, writing it maybe even as early as 2018. Some of the poems that went into the earliest version probably were like, you know, dating as far back as like 2016 or 17. But they're not in it anymore. And so colorless green ideas is sort of like I consider it like, related to the ox house. In the if the ox house is all about the letters that we use in the production of poetry, colorless green ideas is about sort of like the semantics and syntax and lexical choices. So colorless green ideas is an excerpt from a phrase coined by Noam Chomsky in his 1966 I want to say book syntactic structures. So Noam Chomsky came up with the phrase, which goes colorless green ideas sleep furiously. And he came up with this phrase to demonstrate that grammatically correct sentences in English don't necessarily have to be like, sensical, they don't have to mean anything. So the phrase colorless green ideas sleep furiously has all of the like components required in English to create like a complete sentence. But in and of itself, without any context, it means absolutely nothing. So this was an idea introduced to me during my master's and I was like, that's a cool phrase, I'm going to use it in a poem. And turns out, lots of poets have actually used that phrase in poems before, because, you know, you tell a poet, like, this is a perfect sentence, but it means nothing. And they like, see, and they're like, actually, no, I'm gonna make it mean something. But the collection, I've been working on it for ages, and it's like gone through like lots of different iterations. And I think it's almost finished, I actually sent it out to, I've sent it out to quite a few like, presses over the last two or three years, and it's been like, long listed for publication, and then not chosen, and then shortlisted for publication, and then not chosen, which is always a disappointment. But I know really, that it's a blessing, because I'm really happy with how it is now. And when I was sending it out earlier, it wasn't necessarily completed. But yeah, I think, I think a few more weeks working on that, and it will be done. Hopefully, I say that now. But we'll see you know how these things go. But yeah, it's all about like thematically explores the possibilities of poetry in the 21st century, especially in regards to all of the other forms of like culture and entertainment we have at our disposal. So it's sort of juxtaposes like lyric verse with more experimental verse. There's lots of poems in it about like video games, or like, inspired by video games and like computing, films, like, you know, juxtaposes lots of different forms of entertainment and culture, we tend to still see poetry or like society, in general tends to still see poetry as quite a highbrow thing. I don't think that there's any like difference, like highbrow lowbrow entertainment. I think that within each different type of entertainment, our culture, got some good like things and some bad things. You know, there's some good poems or some poems, there's some good films, there's some bad films, good songs, bad songs, well, I don't think you can like rank different genres of art in any way at all. And so one of the things I tried to achieve with this collection is like sort of create a level playing field. But it also asks lots of questions about the role of poetry and the role of culture in general, in the 21st century, in the context of like, the environmental crisis in the context of like, the various like political crises you're seeing across the globe, right now, in particular, you know, European states leaning, quite worryingly, sometimes towards far right politics, it asks about the role of culture, you know, post, like in a post COVID world, so yeah, that's, that's one of them. Colorless Green Ideas, hopefully, it's going to be finished soon. But then also, I'm working on a novel at the moment, which is exciting, and also really, really difficult. Turns out writing a novel is very different from writing poetry. Who would have thought, you know, it's like, the common metaphor that, you know, writing a novel is like climbing a mountain. But yeah, I'm really excited about that. I just finished my fourth draft of that over the weekend. So gonna start on the fifth draft soon. And then after that, I'm going to start the sixth draft. And then after that, the seventh and then eventually, it's going to get to a decent like place. But no, I'm really excited about that. It's been really nice. Doing something like challenging myself and stretching myself. Like I say, I'd always wanted to be a fiction writer, like since I was a kid. But I never really tried to write fiction. You know, I always had a dream of like, you know, being a fiction writer, being a novelist, but then I spent all of my writing time when I took when I started taking writing seriously from like, you know, I don't know the age of like, 21 onwards, I spent all of my writing time writing poems. And I think that's because the idea of writing something as large and as long as a novel is really intimidating, and it is an intimidating process, but I'm really like, excited that I've completed this draft. And it's far from done like it's not finished, I'm gonna need to revisit it quite a few times until it's finished. But I'm really pleased with myself that I managd to write this like narrative that has a beginning, middle and end, and some sort of coherence. So yeah, I'm really excited about that I'm looking forward to, I'm going to try to finish it, like finish it to a position that I might potentially feel comfortable like sending it out to agents by the end of 2021. Because then I really want to free up some more time to write some more poetry in 2022. Yeah, and the last project I have going is actually like, almost actually completed now. So in the month of September, I ran a workshop series, funded and supported by the mighty creatives called writing notts. So I'm from London originally, I'm back in London now. I lived in Nottingham for five years. And I ran this workshop series over zoom with 10, poets based in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, who are like at various stages of their careers. We've got a couple of people who had books out already. And then lots of other poets who like are either like, you know, they've got lots of poems out but they haven't had a collection out yet, or they've just started writing poetry. We've got some people who wrote their first poems during the workshop, which is really exciting. So I ran that collect that workshop series over zoom in the month of September, and where I invited poets to, sort of like, respond to, you know, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, as a local, as an idea like physical places in Nottingham, but also like, not accuse various myths and legends, including, most famously the legend of Robin Hood. And this is sort of like culmination of that workshop series. I've been putting together an anthology of writers work, called the writing notts 2021 anthology, and it's been printed and I'm waiting for it to be delivered to me right now. And then I'm going to distribute it to the participants. But I'll also be distributing it for free throughout Nottingham, we're going to contact some like libraries and bookstores to see if they can distribute it for free, there's going to be a launch event on the first Thursday, of December, from seven to 8pm. Where the it's going to be a launch event overseen, and the participants are going to read their poetry out loud. But I love doing it so much like I really, really enjoy writing, but I really, really, really enjoy doing editorial work, like putting together this anthology was probably the most fun I've had is doing any writing thing that I've done, which is, you know, seeing these other people's work and like giving new poets a space and giving new person opportunity to be published has been really satisfying. And I can't wait to actually see the anthology in person. And I can't wait for people to start getting their hands on it.
Oh, that sounds amazing. Sounds like you've got some very exciting things that you're working on at the moment. And sort of, you know, to round off our conversation, I'd love to just quickly hear about some of your just, you know, goals for the future in the next few years.
Yeah, so I think the main two at the minute, are finishing the novel. That's probably the main one, and then finishing colorless green ideas. And it'll be great to see that finally published. Like I say, I've had some interest from editors before, but it's not been quite right. So be great to finish that. But then honestly, after that, I don't really know what I'm going to do. Like, I think I might, I really, really enjoyed doing the writing nottts anthology. I might see if I can make that an annual thing. Maybe I'll ask for funding to see if I can do it, do it again next year, maybe I'll see if I can do it again for other cities.
Awesome. So great goals, then. Oh, sounds really exciting. And I mean, thank you so much for having a chat with us. It's been absolutely fantastic to find out a bit more about yourself, your writing and your projects.
Thank you so much for having me. Like, you know, I absolutely love this podcast. So it was such an honor to be invited. And I'm so pleased that you had me, thank you.
So it was just an absolute pleasure to chat to Teo and find out more about some of Teo's projects and writing and inspirations and some really great tips around not feeling pressure and comparing yourself to other writers. So it was a really great chat. Thank you so much. And our next guest is going to be Lindz and Lindz is a Scottish writer, poet and editor. And Lindz has a wide array of different pieces that have been published and you can can find that out on Lindz's website, there is a wonderful list there, really, really impressive. Lindz is the competition secretary of the Edinburgh writers club, as well as their flash fiction judge and occasional workshop host. She is a fiction reader for Outlook springs, and she is represented by Laura Zats at Headwater Literary Management. And Lindz is just an incredible writer that we're really keen to chat to and find out about Lindz started on this writing journey, and some of the projects that Lindz is working on now. So hi Lindz, how are you?
Hello, I'm great. Thank you.
Brilliant. I'm very excited to find out a bit more about you. So to begin, do you just want to tell us a little bit by yourself and maybe about how you got into this this journey?
Um, yeah, absolutely. So I think I've always been a writer, and on some level or another, my parents would tell me that I refuse to take baths if I couldn't bring in my little waterproof baby books. And they were absolutely heartily sick of reading me bedtime stories every night. So there was definitely apparently I was the child that would not go to sleep when a bedtime story was being read, I demanded to know how it ended. And I have to admit, I'm still like that as an adult. So I've always been surrounded by literature, and had a deep abiding love of writing and reading, I was a voracious reader growing up, which meant that my vocabulary was pretty good. But that definitely wasn't necessarily helpful in social situations with my peers. And at school, I always wrote, but I grew up in an area where it wasn't really something that necessarily was helpful for me. And it wasn't until I moved out, when I was 17. And I moved to Edinburgh, I have been in the same job 14 years now. And in the process of that job, I decided that I wanted to go and get my BA. So I had been working full time. And I went back and did my BA in an Open University part time, which took five years. And then I went immediately into the Masters because I enjoyed everything so much. And I finished the Masters in 2019. And I had been writing, but I don't think I was writing to the extent that I'm writing now. It's definitely always been something I've been interested in. But I think, actually going through kind of seven years of academia has really strengthened my resolve to that this is the right path. For me, it's definitely something that I think I've shown a little bit of talent in, and I'm definitely prepared to work hard. So at the moment, I dabble in lots of different things, different genres. I signed with my agent in September last year. And since then, I've written another novel, and I'm currently in the process of writing multiple projects, I think she might be glad if she doesn't hear from me for I think. I maybe overwork maybe compared to some other people. I think she's probably sick of seeing my name.
That is incredible, and a fantastic introduction to, you know, the type of writing and how you sort of got into the journey. And I mean, obviously, you've been writing for quite a while, and what is the biggest thing you'd say, that you've learned from when you first started out to now?
Oh, gosh, I mean, that's, that's an interesting question. Because there's so many things that I didn't know, certainly, when I started writing, I never really dreamt that I could make a career out of it. And I'm sure that you know, kind of working in this industry, it doesn't really pay a huge amount, you really do have to do it for the love a lot of the time, especially when you're kind of starting out. I definitely thought that, you know, getting an agent would be the end of all my worries. And but in fact, that's turned out to be not at all the case, because having an agent simply means that someone else does all your worrying for you. But it doesn't stop you worrying. So you're just both worrying. So that's kind of interesting. And it's not something that people talk about a lot once they have an agent because everything becomes quite hush hush. So I've been trying to kind of make that a little more transparent in the process. My agents very good. She actually runs her own podcast and she talks a lot about the industry and tries to kind of demystify elements of that. And it was one of the reasons that I wanted to sign with her specifically is that she's very good by making things clear. And she's quite happy to kind of talk it over for new writers. I know, I certainly have a lot of questions for her. But I think maybe it's true of a lot of writers. But certainly I didn't realize that talent would only ever take me so far. The hard work was really going to be 95% of what I do.
Okay, yeah, no, that definitely makes sense. And I mean, does the feeling ever change from when maybe you were first published because you have a very, very impressive and extensive list of publications which but has it ever changed? Like from the feeling of being published, like first time to now? Is there differences in how that feels?
Well, I mean, I know, I know that my history is is is quite varied there. And it's all on my website. But actually, it hasn't been going back that far. I only had a couple of things prior to finishing my master's, because I had been working on a novel at the time. And I think at that point, I probably thought I was a lot better than I was, I'm sure, I'm sure I thought that, in fact, and now I know how bad I was, and how, what a long way, I still had to go. In all respects. It never stops feeling wonderful. To me. I've actually had two acceptances. This week one, which I have to keep a secret for now. And the other one, which I just announced on Twitter, and you get so many rejections in this, you really have to be prepared to, you know, feel disappointed and feel despairing and kind of like you want to eat your laptop. Or maybe yourself, you know, you have there are days when I I say to my partner, you know, oh God, another rejection? Why am I doing this? But you have to, you know, and it just is part of the process. It's just really unfortunate, but a lot of people find that it's too much, and which is okay, as well. And there are days when I find it too much, but I couldn't give up doing what I do for anything, even if there were nothing but rejections for the rest of my life. I still couldn't stop writing, I think.
Yeah, I was just wondering, you know, as audience grows, and more people find you and your work, does that ever change anything in the perspective and the way you approach your writing your work? Does that ever maybe increase pressure? Or I'm just curious to know if that sort your relationship with your writing changed in any way?
Yeah, I mean, it's interesting, maybe for me, it's a little different. Because I have kind of leaned into the kind of writing that I would like to do, rather than kind of catering to other people. Luckily, I think a lot of the things that I write even the stranger things is because a lot of them tend to be on the strange side. I think there is an audience for that. And that has kind of propped up my hope that it's not just me as a small weirdo on an island, trying to kind of, you know, amuse myself, because a lot of the things I write, increasingly, but always kind of happen. I write because it didn't exist, and I wanted to read it. So I had to create it myself. Or I was amusing myself, I was just entertaining myself by writing something strange. And it just, you know, why not? But there's definitely been more reception. The more I get published, which has been really nice, I'm now a member of the SFWA, and I had my first couple of prose sales this year. So it actually has been, I like to call it failing upward. I feel like I'm failing upwards, because I just write whatever comes to mind. I really, you know, people are kind of always asking me, you know, where do you get your ideas? And I think like, well, you must have them too. When I talk to other writers, they're always saying, like, oh, I had this dream, or I had this thought, but then I thought it was silly. And I didn't follow through. And I think I don't have that sensible voice inside me. I'm sorry. Maybe that's your conscience? Or maybe that's just the voice of reason. I think I lack that. My inner voices. Yeah, do it. Why not? And then I come up with something and you know, but I think I probably write more than I really have time to submit, which has been kind of a pain this year. So far this year, I'm coming up for 300,000 words. So it's been yeah. So my partner keeps saying like, Oh, where did you submit this story? Oh, you only submitted it three times. I'm like, I don't have time to I was actually in the middle of writing another story. I don't have time to submit. I need an assistant who submits for me, I think at this point.
Oh, fair enough. That's amazing. That's absolutely incredible. And something else I wondered about is for you, and you know, some people, just poets, some people are just, you know, short story writers. And you dabble in a bit of both. I really like to know and be curious about how it feels to sort of switch between them. And if they're different mindsets, and obviously different writing styles, I'd be curious to know how that works for you and how you sort of go between them.
Yeah, I mean, I definitely do dabble. And I never really thought of myself as much of a poet. But then it turned out that people seem to quite like the poetry that I did. But I find poetry quite scary for the longest time because there's nowhere to hide. And, you know, like in prose, you can kind of, you can pad it out a little it can be a little more drawn out. It can be a little more metaphorical. You don't have to always quite come out and say what you're seeing. But in poetry, there is no space to do that. There's nothing to hide behind. So it felt very vulnerable to write and I think maybe it's maybe it's changed now, I think because I tend to, now I'm leaning into that a little more, I've tried to take the skills that I've learned from from writing poetry and apply them to prose. So the things that I right now, compared to even a year ago are much more, I think intimate and more vulnerable. Obviously, they're kind of commercial things and genre things that I write. But now, it's more about. I'm not, I'm less afraid, I think, to really tap into what I'm actually seeing, rather than kind of dancing around the idea, which I think probably improves the prose, I think they improve each other, the more you, the better you get at both. And if you work in poetry, you have to think about your images, because that's mainly what you're working with. And I have to say that my, it's funny because my, the images of my poetry tend to be better than the descriptions in my prose, I often forget to describe things in prose, I have to go back and put them in. Because I'm, in my head, I'm sort of seeing it like a film scene. So I'm really just writing down what's happening. But then, you know, some one of my friends will, or my partner might read it and see, okay, but you know, what does this house look like? And what are these people look like? And I think, oh, yeah, I forget that you can't see them. It's been a real pain in the novel that I finished earlier this year, I actually had to go back through the entire thing and put in, like, what the thing looked like, it was such a pain, because I kind of forgotten because in my head, it was so very clear.
With your writing, so you touched on that you sort of go across different genres, and different sort of themes and things. But I'd be curious to know what some of the main themes across your work tend to be.
So at the moment, a massive, massive theme in my work has been the double standards and kind of disparity in the way we perceive and treat genders in society. And the novel that I wrote earlier this year, it's called wolf whistle. It kind of takes sort of purity culture, and gender swaps it. So if you imagine its kind of like Red Riding Hood, but gender swapped, so that the teenage boy is the Red Riding Hood. And the adult woman is the wolf. And I thought, you know, how does that change the way we see things and the more I began to write it, the more it became, it wasn't even satire, it was just highlighting the ridiculousness of those same standards applied to boys and men. And I began writing it just at the time that the news was starting to break about the murder of Sarah Everard. And that was feeding in hugely to what I was writing in, and I was already, you know, the themes of the novel were already kind of in my head, because it had come from a short story that I'd written and published a year prior. But there was more to it for me, and the more that I read the headlines, and I read the articles, and and the more information that I learned about this case, the angrier I became, and the more it kind of poured into my writing. Because for me, it's really, really important that it's a huge issue that we're having. And, you know, I saw articles even a month or so ago saying, you know, oh, we're, you know, however many months on and what has changed, and I think, nothing, nothing has changed. There was just another young woman who was killed. But you know, well, walking at night, just five minutes, you know, walking to meet some friends. And it's the same kind of thing. And I just really kind of want to shine a light on that. Not that it hasn't already had, you know, floodlights shone on it. But in the same way that you know, I watched The Handmaid's Tale and thought Yeah, actually, none of this is really fiction. You know, Margaret Atwood went out of her way, too, to ensure that everything she put in had already been, like it already been used in history. So she could you know, whenever someone said, like, oh, this seems kind of far fetched, she could point to something historical and say, Well, this is actually happened. And in my novel, there are various instances where my agent had said to me, you know, I, I wanted to write a comment here and say, like, Oh, this is a bit far, this is ridiculous. But actually, every single time I realized, oh, no, this this happens to women, this happens. This has happened to me this happen to people I know. And even when I talked to people who have like, you know, my mother, or and people of that generation, my mother would say, oh, you know, if women were in charge, you know what I would do? And I had no idea what she was gonna say, you know, I was like, where's this gonna go? Okay, I'd love to hear and she said, I would take a walk at night. And I thought, you know, I'm going to ask more people. And pretty much everyone everyone who had been a socialized female that I had asked, one of the first things they would say is, wow, I would walk at night, and I would be safe. I thought that is really sad. Like, it's not even, oh, I would be president or I would, you know, do whatever, I would get some sort of harem of young attractive men, you know, I would take over the world, they thought they wanted to walk without being harassed. And I thought that's really sad, actually. But also really powerful at the same time. And it's just, it's, it's never really let go of me. So I have written some poetry about it as well. And I've been reading and performing some things to raise money for charities in the wake of the Sarah Everard case, and it's, it's something very close to my heart, the sheer unfairness of it. And I don't think that that is likely to go away anytime soon. I think that's always going to be just injustice as a theme is really at the core of everything I write.
Yeah, definitely. And for these issues that are so close and personal, does that ever make a holiday to write about them and perform them and approach them?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Because there's plenty of things especially in the novel, where I, it was a really difficult scene to write, or it was a difficult conversation to write. And I would feel very grimy in my soul, you know, writing from this perspective, and there were several times I just sort of had to stop and go and take a long shower, where I just stared into oblivion and thought, like, okay, just the fact that I've written those words makes me feel very not okay. But they were things that I had heard, or things that I had seen directed towards other people. But actually writing them down was was quite a lot sometimes, you know?
Yeah, for sure. And I definitely, yeah. And so, you speaking a little bit about some of your current writing, I'd love to hear a bit more about what you're currently working on.
Gosh, well, okay, I'm, I'm doing several different projects for NaNoWriMo. As sensible, or perhaps not as that may be. And one of the reasons is that I, I have been writing short fiction, since I finished my novel in kind of April ish. And I wrote lots of short fiction over the summer, and I got really sick of writing short fiction. So I wanted to write another novel. But I also wanted to give myself an out that I didn't have to do anything kind of too strenuous. So I decided to juggle a novel and two novellas that I had going on at the same time. Somehow, I had sort of justified that adding more work was less work somehow, I'm not quite sure what my logic was. I don't think it holds up to any kind of scrutiny to be honest. But I'm working on a new idea, which I think is a natural successor to the last novel. And it's looking at, I'm sort of comping it as a squid game meets Girl Interrupted. Oh, cool. So yeah, that's, it's going to be interesting, I think. And it's actually going quite well, I really didn't have any kind of outline when I started, which I'm a bit of a slightly spontaneous and kind of fly by the seat of your pants, I don't tend to outline things a huge amount, I just sort of go for it. And it's worth 15,000 words so far, and it's actually turning out pretty well. And the others are novellas, one of which I think is really turning out quite fun. If you imagine a kind of queer bridgerton so it's actually based on a real person. She was a, a bisexual, opera singer, wonderful fencer, in sort of late 1600s, in France, and specifically in Marseille at this time. And the story goes, that while she was singing in the opera one night, a woman, a noble woman, fell in love with her, just love her sight. And they got together and the noble woman's family were, of course, not very happy about this. So they sent her to a nunnery and the opera singer, deciding that she would be a very dashing heroine, enrolled herself as a novice, waited until one of the elderly nuns perished naturally, I mean, we hope, the story is a little vague on this, put the body in her girlfriend's bed, to create a kind of, you know, decoy, and then set the nunnery on fire, and they both escaped. So she was definitely an interesting, a very chaotic person. So it's very easy to write, but I'm reading it from the noble woman's point of view. And it is kind of interesting to have like a straight person to this just absolute bowl of chaos. And it's also an opportunity to be a bit comedic as well, which I don't often get in a lot of my other work, I do quite like to write comedy when I can. And obviously, a lot of other things kind of don't lend themselves too well to comedy. So yeah, it's great. And I also am a huge Austin fan and books of like the Edwardian and Georgian and eras and the way that they're written. So it is kind of written in this sort of very Austin kind of language, which just makes for me, a lot of the comedy seem much funnier.
They sound amazing.
I mean, I, I hope publishers feel the same way.
Oh, definitely, honestly, sounds incredible.
Thank you very much.
And so within the sort of literary scene, I'd be curious to know about some of like, the highs and lows and what you think, is doing really well within the literary scene, and where, as a whole, it is performing really well on some of the areas where we're not doing so well, we could be doing better.
For the highs, definitely, I'd say kind of how I've seen many new literary mags pop up. And it seems to be I wouldn't say easy to start a literary mag, but it seems to be more accessible. And people can kind of, you know, do their own thing, or, you know, sub to smaller mags, which I quite like doing as well, I quite like to if there's somewhere new, that sounds kind of fun, I have no problem doing that, you know, compared to some of your like, large and prestigious. And I think that's been really good, because it increases accessibility just across the board. And it also means that we're not relying on these kinds of like large older institutions, to dictate you know, what is good and what is not and what is out there, because often people, of course, we all want to be paid for work. But it is also important to have eyes on it at the same time. And so being able to move to an online medium is also something that's really interesting. So it's not just print anymore. So it does make it more accessible. There's definitely like, things I would like to see in that I've seen recently, someone, you know, starting a lit mag, and there's been some talk about, you know, how best to make it accessible to everyone. So providing transcripts and audio versions of things as well, which I think is really good. And it's really wonderful to see. So one of the things that I found really problematic during the pandemic is, I have some hearing loss in one ear. And I was really in denial about how bad that actually is. And it wasn't until everyone was wearing masks that I realized I couldn't read lips anymore. Which was incredibly annoying. But I could no longer be in denial about it. So it for me, it's really nice to kind of see that there's more of a push towards accessibility. I mean, for the lows there. Like I said earlier, there's not a huge amount of transparency in the publishing industry as a whole. And I there are a lot of places where, you know, I don't necessarily agree with like big fees for competitions, or even necessarily submission fees, but then again, you know, you have to balance that against how the mags are keeping themselves alive. There's also been a bit of a push for, you know, especially in the wake of several things that happened last year, for more inclusivity and kind of helping minorities. But I hope that it's not just lip service, and I hope it's not just kind of a lot of agents and publishers kind of paying lip service to the idea but only until it sort of drops out of the headlines and then no longer being interested because obviously the publishing industry as a whole does skew straight, it does skew white it does skew male, and you know, it would be really nice to, to see a lot of those trends moving into I know, we're not using really the term own voices anymore, but it would be nice to see just that being a bit more spread, I think. I mean, I like I actually have, I'm a real spreadsheet dork. So I have spreadsheets for everything. But I have a spreadsheet, which where I track everything I read every year and I've been doing it since 2015. Because it's a great way of checking like okay, like, you know, how many books of the last say 30 that I read, how many of them were by like middle aged white men, you know, okay, let's change that. Because you don't want to, especially if you're a writer, you need to read widely. You know, you really need to sort of be seeing what other people are doing. You can't just be stuck in the safe little box. You really need to be pushing yourself, in my opinion.
Oh, sure. No, definitely, definitely agree with you there. Yeah, it was really interesting to hear but more insight into that from your perspective and to sort of round off, I'd love to know a bit more about some of your future plans if you can disclose them, or just about some of your goals for the next few years that you hope to sort of achieve.
Well, it would be really, really nice to sell one of these novels. That that's basically the goal. And I would really like to get to the point where I've sold enough short fiction to make a collection as well. I do have a few things in the pipeline, but I cannot talk about some of them quite yet. But I do have a few stories coming out over the next few months. I have a couple being haunted by a stag infestation in their house, which is coming out with fusion fragment next year. And I have a really interesting story that I wrote and never thought anyone would ever published because that even the title alone is insane, called I'm a Mongolian death worm. And that will be in the next issue of Bear Creek Gazette and I'm working on a few things right now that I'm hoping will pan out. Again, these are ideas that I've had, and I never say no to an idea, which is probably why my looks like a complete disaster. I will just write notes to myself and then come back to it later and be like, well, you know, let's give it a go. So, yeah, there's definitely a few things in there at the moment. It's, it's I am consumed with this new novel, but I would love to write a sequel to wolf whistle. And I've always always wanted to write, although this might be a little bit I'm not sure who would want to read it. But I really would like to write a novel called Wickham, which looks at George Wickham and provides like, behind the scenes justifications for everything that he did in Pride and Prejudice. Because I think if I could make George Wickham, a sympathetic character that would really push the boundaries of, of what I could do personally as a writer.
Okay, so lots of exciting things coming up from you then hopefully, that's great. Oh, brilliant. Well gosh, thank you so much for having a chat with me, it's been so good to find out a bit more about yourself and your writing. And it's been an absolute pleasure to chat.
Thank you very much for having me this was super fun.
That was just great to chat to Lindz, I really enjoyed finding out more about Lindz's work and some of the really important themes that Lindz's work tackles. And I highly recommend you go and check out Lindz and Lindz's work. And so the final guests we're gonna be speaking to today is the wonderful Laura. And this interview will be conducted by JP.
Hello, everyone. So this is JP from the Full House podcast. And I'm really delighted that my guest for this session is Laura Besley. So Laura is a writer, and an author of two books so far the almost mothers and 100neHundred. And I've never been quite sure how to pronounce that. So I'm sure she's gonna correct me on it later. And a new book that's coming up very soon, due to be published from Beir Bua press called unnatural elements, which I hope you're going to tell us all about, I suppose tell us tell us tell us a little bit about your writing journey.
I don't really know how to describe myself apart from to say that I'm a writer. I don't really define myself as a short fiction writer, although that is predominantly what I have written and published to date. I don't know whether I'll always be writing short fiction. I think I will. But I don't know. I don't want to pigeonhole myself, I suppose. And I think, certainly in the last couple of years, I've been experimenting with different kinds of writing, sort of short and then even shorter, and leaning a little bit more towards poetry, although it does still remain a bit of a mystery to me. So, but I enjoy reading it, and I enjoy the thought of it. But I don't know, and maybe one day I'll write a novel, who knows? So yes, in terms of really defining myself, I'm not really sure how to, if that makes sense.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think it's, it's great, obviously, not to pigeonhole yourself. Although, I suppose I first came across your work, you know, in the in the realm of flash fiction and sort of think of you as a sort of queen of flash fiction or short fiction or micro fiction, as it's now called, there seem to be lots of new terms for it. And there's, there's obviously such a very specific skill of being able to convey a story in such a short amount of words and space and your book. Is it 100 and 100. How was it sort of pronounced?
And that's from arachne press. Is that right? Where you've got 100 stories of 100 words, long is that is that is that right? Where did the idea come from that?
I started out probably about 10 or 11 years ago, and writing, and I had lots of ideas, but I struggled to write more than a paragraph or two of the same story. And then quite by chance, I stumbled across a blog by Callum Kerr, who was the Director of National flash fiction day at the time. And he was writing a piece a day, every day for a year, and posting it onto his blog. So I thought I would do the same. Although I changed it slightly, I didn't post every day because I wasn't confident enough in what I was writing. But I tried to choose one a week that I felt was good enough to post on the blog. And that's what I did. So I amassed this huge amount of short fiction, and some days it worked. And other days, it didn't. But I do think that it helped a lot in terms of learning how to write a story from beginning to end. So the the word count was 500. That was the word count that you were supposed to stick to. And I suppose in that year, I fell in love with short fiction. I didn't really know of it before then. And I just continued writing it. And the 100 word story specifically started with a competition that was run by Morgan Bailey. And she ran one a month, and you could enter three, and she would set a theme. So every month, for years and years, I entered three stories into her competition. And I amassed quite a lot of them. And it suddenly occurred to me that if I could get to 100, and write 100 stories of 100 words, that that could be something that I could do something with. So when arachne press sent out an invitation to submit, because I had been published by them before, I thought I would try this format and see whether it cherry was interested in it. And luckily she was. And that's how that came about.
Yeah, well, I think it's a great concept. And it really works. And I've read the book I love I love the book. And it's you sort of split it into the into the seasons as well, don't you, which I suppose is a nice way to move through different moods that the stories have. But I also from your previous book, The almost mothers your work often has quite a sort of dark, or speculative feel to it. Which would you say that's correct. I mean, that that, that I guess that's the fiction that you write that I really like, you know, because I also like that sort of dark undercurrent or kind of black humor, or sort of speculative kind of fiction. And, you know, I think it's wonderful the way that you convey those concepts. And again, you know, in just a small number of words, is that something that comes naturally to your writing? Because that's your outlook on the world? Or is that something that you were just specifically sort of trying as a, as an experiment, if you like?
I think it's something that's developed over time, when I started out, I was writing predominantly normal fiction for want of a better word, and sort of the everyday life, things that just sort of happen. And I think when I was writing the almost mothers, that's when the more speculative fiction started to come into play. And I can't really say specifically what started it. But I think some of the stories in the almost mothers, it just seemed to fit them well, I think for some of those stories, because I think I was trying to convey and explore some of the darker feelings around motherhood, maybe it felt easier to do that in a world that wasn't our own, and maybe not even natural. So I think that's how that started. And I suppose once you well, for me, once I started on that path, I felt that I enjoyed it more and more. And I definitely think that short fiction lends itself to this experimentation, where you can try all these different things, and you can try all these new ideas. And the joy of it is that if it doesn't work, you haven't wasted a huge amount of time, because a single draft could be written in 10 minutes, or half an hour, an hour at most, and so you haven't sort of invested weeks and months, and then realize that it doesn't work. So I think I think that's one of the benefits of short fiction that you can try out all these alternate worlds and try different viewpoints and genres and you can just sort of see what fits but I do think that what now that I've started writing slightly differently, I suppose. It's, I don't know it's something that is has become a bit more prevalent in my writing, I think.
What that sort of speculative feel or the dark element to it?
Yes, I think so. I think I do. And I suppose there is a sort of a darker undercurrent to a lot of my stories. That was one of the pieces of feedback I got from Cherry when she looked at 100 100 as a whole. She said, You know, they can't all be sad Laura. Yes, that's true. She has got a, you know, just got a point there. So, yeah, so you have to be careful. I suppose that if you're putting a lot of them together, that you strike a balance? Maybe 100 stories like that wouldn't work. But having, like I said, having a balance of them. works better.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it does feel as though flash fiction has really taken off recently. I mean, I imagine that when you sort of started out, so 10 years or so ago, it was quite a new thing. I mean, now, you know, you've got magazines, or journals, and websites that are sort of devoted just to flash flash fiction, and obviously, people that just specialize in in writing that, and I can see that the there's an attraction as a writer, because as you say, you know, you can come up with an idea. And you can kind of render that idea very quickly, which is satisfying as a writer, rather than taking months or years to write a novel or something. But also, as a reader, you know, I guess it perhaps it lends itself quite well to the amount of time that people perhaps have to read, you know, if you're scrolling weblog on your phone, you can actually read several sort of short stories, sort of flash fiction stories quite quickly, which is nice. But I think there is that experimental aspect to it as well, isn't it, it does feel as though a lot of people are taking, taking it as a form and actually doing quite interesting things with it, you know, as you do yourself with, I mean, flash fiction, when you described it earlier, in terms of the sort of skill involved, really, it kind of actually made me think a little bit about poetry, I think in some ways, it's perhaps more akin to writing a poem that it might be to writing, you know, a longer sort of short story, in that you've sort of set yourself a constraint. And obviously, not all poems have constraints, but there's a lot that have constraints in terms of a particular form that you're trying to adhere to whether it's, you know, traditional sonnet, or, you know, something else, or it's the kind of early Poe kind of constraints in terms of only using certain letters, or whatever. And it feels as though sort of flash fiction or micro fiction, where you are kind of getting things down to sort of 250 or 100 words, you know, every single word really has to count. And that is quite a constraint. And it's really quite a skill in being able to, you know, get across, you know, characters and imagery, you know, a storyline and a plot, and some sort of twist or denouement at the end, you know, there's, there's a lot going a lot you've got to achieve as a writer in such a kind of short space. I mean, what sorts of skills or techniques do you deploy? As, as you've developed your craft, you know, over the years? And what perhaps, would you suggest to those listening who perhaps really interested in getting into flash fiction?
I think you're right, in terms of the constraints of flash and micro fiction, especially it strange that to me that a sort of a 1000 word story, it will feel quite long now having written so many, much shorter pieces. I think, in terms of the actual craft of the microfiction for example, I think the title has to work hard for the story, it almost has to it has to form part of the story. And I suppose some form some the story in some way. And the verbs have to work really hard. And well, I suppose, like you said, like, every word has to work really hard. But I think I think you can quite often look at a sentence you've written. So if I draft a story, it might be 120 130 40 words. And then you can sort of step away and then you look back at it, and you can immediately cross out words that you don't need. And then you need to start looking at how you can rejig sentences to say exactly what you wanted to say but in five words for example, or you need to think about dialog tags, do you need all of these verbs and things like that. So I suppose it's, I write long and then condense down. I know some people do write the other way, but I think it's less common to do that. So I suppose in terms of developing, I just I think it's just one big jigsaw. I think it's just piecing things together. And you know, you take a word out, you put a word in and you take two words out, you put one word in and it's a lot of playing around. And sometimes I mean, I've said this before on Twitter, I think that sometimes I can spend 30 minutes just trying to get one sentence, right. And it seems ridiculous. But if you've got 10 words to play with, and you've got 12, and we've got to figure out a way of making that sentence work, it can take, it can take quite a lot of experimenting with I suppose, and tooing and froing. But then when you get it down to 10 words, it's just amazing.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, and you feel I've really achieved something by reducing my wordcount so much today. Yeah, yeah, I was really interesting what you say about titles, actually, because I can see what you mean completely for flash fiction and micro fiction. And, you know, some I was, I was often really kind of intrigued by the titles that you used in some of your fiction, because as you say, they kind of they have to work in, they have to do a lot of work, you know, they're really adding a lot that are another layer to the story. I mean, are you are you do you tend to sort of have an idea for the title quite early on as you're writing the story? Or is it one of those things where you sort of have a working title? And then when you've kind of honed it down to your however many words, you kind of think, actually, no, it needs to work a little bit harder for that, you know, I need I know, for myself, I kind of find it quite hard to change my original title, you know, I'm really rubbish at titles myself. But you know, I'm just, it's interesting for someone who, you know, obviously sees that as being such an integral part of the text.
Yeah, I, I'm working title, and then it changes as the story develops. And I find writing titles, probably the second hardest part of writing a piece of fiction, the ending is the hardest. For me, the beginning is the easiest, I'm best with lots of ideas. So I generally have the opening, comes quite easily the title not and the ending not. So I suppose the title, I suppose as as the piece develops and as you take things out, I suppose that's where you start to look to see whether you could put any of that into the title. And I find that one word titles often don't give an awful lot away. Sometimes they work, obviously. But I suppose generally, I think my titles have got longer in in order to to give that extra information for the piece, I suppose.
Yeah. Yeah. No, it's interesting. And are you one of those writers where you get the idea for the story, and you kind of know what the story is going to be about? Before you start writing it? Or are you one where you actually kind of discover what the story is, as you're writing it, and you've got to get to the end? You know it sort of takes you in a slightly unexpected direction, it wasn't quite what the story that you thought it was?
Very much the second. I have very, very, very rarely written a story where, when I started, I know how it's going to end. And that may be because of my difficulty with endings, but I'm just not quite sure. Because I know for some people, they say that they have an ending in mind, and they're writing towards this ending. And I've always thought that that must be so much, not easier, but it must sort of make the process a little bit easier in the sense that you kind of know, where you need to end up. And okay, the path may go slightly differently, but you end up where you want to end up. Whereas quite often, I have no idea when I start out where I'm going to end up. But part of me also likes that because there's that element of surprise for yourself, as well as hopefully that, you know, it's not predictable for the reader when they're reading it.
I mean, you could argue that knowing exactly where you want to go in the story just makes it a bit boring, you know, the process of writing, but one of the one of the joys of it is is kind of discovering elements that are hidden in the story or within the characters that you perhaps weren't aware of at the start.
Yeah, that's why I in the beginning, when I first started writing, I struggled with editing because once the story is known, for me I find the editing process really difficult. And I found the the first drafting process much more enjoyable because like you said, it's that element of surprise and you don't know where it's going and you can be very pleasantly surprised sometimes. And to me sort of the editing just sort of seemed like that boring bit but had to be done before you could write the next story. However, I've learned to embrace editing. And I think I need to like I said, definitely, I mean, I'm sure all novelists would say the same. But I think definitely when you're writing to such constraints, you have to you have to love editing. Otherwise, I think it would be very, very difficult. And like I said, you know, now there's that joy in finding that perfect sentence where you can suddenly get all the words to do exactly what you want them to do. So I suppose that's, that's for me, I think that's been a big development over the last couple of years that I've learned to see editing and drafting as sort of two sides of the same coin or two different sides of the same coin, where I see both of them equally, but they just come at different times in the process of of writing the whole thing.
Yeah, I guess it's sort of trying to find joy in the editing process, as well as in the initial act of creation, you know, which is always the kind of exciting bit when you get the idea and just start to get it down. And you think, yes, this is this is good stuff. Yeah. So but you obviously have been very busy, because you've got a new book coming out. Well, I've got to say very soon. But actually, by the time this podcast goes out, it will be selling like hotcakes. And will have been out for a couple of weeks. So tell us about that. And, and over to you tell us all about it.
Okay, so the new book is called unnatural elements. And it's basically a collection of very short and very, very short fiction. So a lot of the stories actually started out as Twitter stories. So I go through spells of doing the daily prompts. I don't know if you've ever seen them, the VSS very short stories 365. And I try and do them every day. But sometimes when I'm really busy with another project, I don't I don't have time, but especially during lockdown. I wrote a lot of them. I think, you know, like I was saying it was kind of my, my daily outlet of creativity to sort of write this story. And a couple of people who said to me that I should put them together. And obviously, I was very flattered, but you know, didn't really think an awful lot of it. And then I got talking to Michelle, of Beir Bua Press. And she said that she would be interested in maybe looking at a collection. So I started. So basically, I just went back through my whole back catalogue of these Twitter stories, and started to sort of see some patterns emerging and some themes. And I thought about how I would group them. And I also looked at some of the slightly longer stories, I had sort of 100 100 250 words. So it's comprised of nine elements. And each element has five stories in it. So one or two long ones, and three to four short ones. And, yeah, so once I sort of put it all together, it's a bit like with the seasons in 100 hundred. The idea of dividing it up into these elements sort of seemed to come quite naturally, when I started to look at all the stories and I was thinking about how to divide them up. So that's what I decided to do.
Yeah, yeah. Well, that sounds fantastic. I can't I can't wait to see it. It's called unnatural elements. So is it that the elements are of the natural world or, or all sorts of things and you're obviously sort of playing on that term a little bit with unnatural and natural?
The elements so prdominantly natural, so I've written them down, because otherwise I will forget one of them.
Am I gonna get a sneak an exclusive sneak preview here.
So we have nine elements. So we have salt, sea, skin, sky, snow, soil, stars, steel and stone.
Fantastic, love that.
And then obviously the play I suppose, is the fact that how these elements fit into the stories how they sort of sometimes they feel natural and sometimes they don't and sometimes they're bent to the will of the person in the story. And so yeah, so that's that's why it got that title.
Oh, wow. Sounds fantastic. I mean, Beir Bua is known as being you know, an avant garde press. Is this work you know, for your for yourself at do is a little bit more experimental or do you feel you've just wanting to kind of play and experiment with the form. And I guess the way that you've structured it in itself, you know, it's really unusual for a kind of micro fiction kind of collection. So that is that something where you were, you know, consciously kind of wanting to do something different, I suppose from your previous collections?
Yes, I think so. I think I did want to try something a little bit different. And I suppose having had the constraints of the 100 word stories, it was nice to be able to write some things that were a bit longer and things are a bit shorter. But also some things that verged on poetry or prose, poetry. I don't want to call anything poetry, because I don't want to upset any poets, because I'm, you know, like I said, I don't,
Don't upset the poets!
And I wouldn't call myself a poet. But I suppose just being able to not have to label it, in a way was very freeing. And I think Michelle was was great at sort of understanding the vision that I had for this collection. And like you said, she's a staunch believer in experimental and so therefore it gives you it gives you so much freedom to be able to just try different things. And I was very lucky that she was she was happy with it, which was great, because I did. I think every time we try something new, there's obviously that concern that we haven't quite got it right. But you know, obviously, it did work. And so yeah, that's great.
Oh, it sounds sounds brilliant. And I really can't wait to, to read it. But you're right, is that it, I guess, writing like, like other art forms, it still gets pigeonholed and categorized. And you know, people feel the need to kind of fit it into boxes, which is, I guess, constraining as a as a writer, often you feel you have to do that, if you're trying to pitch it somewhere or sell it somewhere or whatever. Because people are looking for something specific, you know, even if it's just as, you know, just submissions to a magazine. So I guess wonderful to to just look at all this, these short stories, or snippets or elements, as you say that you kind of created and see how they fit together and how they work as a as a whole as a collection. So, so that's really exciting.
The role of the small press is, is fantastic for this, because I think, you know, obviously, you know, there's many aspirations to be published by bigger publishing houses and have a bigger, you know, a larger, wider reach. But, you know, the smaller presses, I think, seem to be, at least to me, the ones taking more of a risk on authors and writers and people who are trying different things and new things. And I think I think that's just brilliant that's a possibility.
Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. And that, that reminds me of the conversation I had with for Farhana Shaikh, in one of our previous podcasts, who, incidentally, is the owner and founder of Dahlia books, who published the almost mothers your first book, and she was also talking about the fact that, you know, it is the sort of small independent presses that really kind of take the risk, if you like, to kind of nurture authors and to put out, you know, perhaps more daring and experimental work, because they don't feel the need to kind of put it into particular categories. And I think, you know, they're they're really doing pushing the boundaries and supporting writers in a way that the sort of big publishers don't, because they're generally just interested in is it is it commercial? You know, is it going to, is it going to pay its pay its way so yeah, I think you're right. I mean, I think it becomes a much more vibrant scene, because because we do have this sort of wealth of independent and often quite experimental presses, which, which is very fortunate, I think, you know, yeah. So I'm going to ask if, if you would perhaps read something for us. I mean, it'd be really wonderful to hear something that you've written, we often get to get people reading poetry, so it'd be quite a treat to get a short story or one or whatever you'd like to read really. Would you would you do that for us?
Yes. So I'm going to read a piece from my new collection. And one thing about the new collection is none of the stories have titles. Which is quite funny. I think because obviously I'm I said that I find it titles difficult. So we have these headings. So for example, salts, and then each story just has a number. So what I'm going to read you is salt number five. And
that sounds like poetry.
Well, and that was mentioned by somebody who wrote a blog for me, she was like, that's more like poetry. And, and, again, I feel like, you know, the lines are being a bit blurred between micro fiction and poetry. And I think, again, I don't know why I did it like that. It just felt intuitively the right thing to do.
Absolutely, I think who cares what someone else decides to label it. The point is, it's, it's, it's something that you've created, and it's sort of telling a story of its own, whether it's in prose, or poetry or whatever, but I'll shut up now and it will be great to hear you read.
Okay, thank you.
Bright white light is all I know, reflecting off the salt flats, illuminating my childhood, my school days and holidays, my Christmases and birthdays, my friendships and family. Bright whitelight is everywhere, trapped in the clouds above us and the salt below us, in our houses, our beds. In the cases we give our lovers in the lullabies we sing to our children, but the darkness is creeping in. Bright white light is fading. Like my parents before me and their parents before them, I thought I'd be the one who kept my sight. But I too have been robbed. My eyes deprived, dried out like the seeds that once sat in this barren land. Until finally, I am left in total darkness.
Wow, that's that ending again. That's that killer Besley ending. That was lovely. Laura, thank you so much for reading that. I really enjoyed that. And, and I look forward to reading more. So this is an unnatural elements, which is out very soon from Beir Bua Press. So that's fantastic. So that's, I guess what you've been working on hard over the last few months. What what's next for you? What are you, you've probably got a new project already on the on the go at the moment? What are you working on at the moment? And what are your sort of plans for future?
I, I've finished, I think, I hope a novella in flash that I've been working on years and years and years. And I don't exaggerate, honestly. And so one of the stories in the almost mothers is one of the stories in the novella in flash. And I'd always had in mind when I wrote the original story that ended up in the almost mothers that it would be part of a larger story. And I originally wrote it in a way that was made up of all different points of view, in the hope that together the voice, the different voices would build up a whole story. But it was rejected. And I left it for a while, then I tried something different. And I left it for a while. And then probably about, where are we now, probably about a year ago, I decided that actually, you know, I was really going to try and finish it. And I was going to try and finish it sort of around sort of Christmas, January time, and then there was another lockdown, and then I didn't quite happen. And then it got left again, because of you know, getting the edits for 100 100. Ready, and and then over the summer, I thought well, I'll just tweak it a little bit. Well, that took weeks. But I think we're I think we're nearly there yet now. So that's really exciting. But that's almost finished. And hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, I will find a publisher for that. And apart from that. I'm just writing lots of flash fiction sort of individual pieces. And every story I start I think, oh, this be 100 word story. And sometimes you have to just accept that it can't be so I am sort of slight default mode, I suppose. But you know some stories they just don't fit, you know, you're trying to tell too large a story. So yeah, so that's, that's where I'm at really.
Well, it sounds like you're really incredibly busy. I mean and the novella in flash. Sounds fantastic. It's a form that I've always been quite intrigued by now, I don't think I've ever read one to be honest, but I often see them, you know, being kind of sort of submission calls and that sort of thing for them, it seems to be a newer thing and it sounds like such a, you know, such a skill to be able to kind of create an overarching story that's sort of made up of individual kind of stories that work in their own right. So so that sounds amazing.
Yes, it was quite a challenge to, to make sure that each story was a standalone. So what I did was I sent them out to lots of different people, because I think that's really the only way that you can judge whether they stand alone. And some, were almost there. And people would email me back and say, yes, it's fine. You know, it works. And, and then with others, it was a smaller thing that needed fixing. But sometimes there were bigger things that needed fixing. And then it got to the stage where I had all the stories in place. And I sort of was a bit ruthless with it and tried to decide whether every story was adding to the accumulation of the, you know, the overall arc and, and pulled another sort of five or six and then had to rewrite those. And but I think, overall, I think it's benefited from such a rigorous overhaul.
Laura, for those that have, you know, heard your wonderful piece from natural elements? Salt, number three, was it I think?
Sorry, I was listening. And and the other work that you've talked about? I mean, where would you sort of recommend that people perhaps, you know, interested in your work and perhaps interested in the form? And obviously, you know, you're mastering that form clearly, where would you sort of suggest that they sort of start in terms of getting to know your work? And where can they sort of find more out about the work that you do?
Oh, I would, I would just suggest following me on Twitter, to be honest, I'm quite active on Twitter, and I'm lucky enough to be published fairly regularly with different magazines. And certainly, I think the best way to decide whether people want to read more of my work, you know, read a few things that are published online and decide whether, you know, it's a style that you're interested in. And then if you want to discover anything else, then you know, it's all there. And available.
Yeah, yeah. And I'd say the Twitter writing community, I think is very supportive and really good, good starting point, isn't it sort of get to find out about different magazines or journals, or just different writers, which is, which is fantastic. Well, I wish you all the best for a natural elements, I'm really excited to see that coming out. It sounds like an exciting new direction that you're going in. And obviously, wish you, hope that you'll find a publisher, I've no doubt that you will find a publisher soon for your novella in flash. And that we'll see lots more of your work. So just to say, Laura, thank you so much for joining us. It's been such a pleasure to talk to you and hear more about your work, past, present and future, and and thank you again for joining us today.
Oh, thank you so much for having me. It's been a it's been a real delight. Thank you.
That was just an absolutely wonderful interview. Thank you so much, JP, for conducting that brilliant, brilliant interview, where we got to learn so much about Laura's work, Laura, and some top tips. So that was just brilliant. We're now going to finish the podcast off by our sort of review section where we look at a journal or magazine who recently published an issue or some pieces. So we're going to do that round off the episode.
And so in this episode, we're going to be looking at kissing dynamite and their issue 34. So kissing dynamite's mission is that they publish 12 poems each month, and they curate compact issues that honor the thematic threads presented by contributing poets. Their goal is to present multiple facets of a theme or topic issue, to break down the narrative of the single story. They have a fantastic masthead of some really wonderful writers. And this issue in particular is called bare. And in this issue, they encourage their poets to expose the self and lay it all on the line. And this is a really beautifully laid up issue. And the way that kissing dynamite do their issues is fantastic. They have a featured artist of the issue. And they have their pieces online with some gorgeous images and they also have accessible PDF document that you can download. So there's a lot of different ways to sort of view the work and some of the pieces they have some commentary on them. And I think this is really fantastic issue really cohesive and offering so much I really enjoyed flicking through these pieces and a lot of writers that I hadn't discovered before that now I'm really excited to keep following their work. And kissing dynamite are doing some absolutely fantastic things. They have a lots and lots of brilliant issues that you can go back and look through, a whole bunch of brilliant content on their site. They're a fantastic journal, and I highly recommend you check them out. As I say, for this podcast, we're going to be looking at issue 34.
Okay, so the first piece we're going to be looking at is Abdulkareem's, 'The thrednody of a boy', this is a really beautifully written piece, there are so many gorgeous elements that I just have to go back in and reread. When I read a piece, I always like zoom in and zoom out. And the bit that always keeps pulling me back in when I'm zoomed out and looking at the piece from a distance is this middle section. And I think middles are really hard to write. I mean, they're the most important part really. And, you know, beginnings and endings are tricky as well. But for me, the middle is the bit that I tend to lose focus. And then this piece, it really pulls me in, which is something quite unique and that I don't find a lot in work. I mean throughout the whole piece is written so consistently and so brilliantly, really engaging writing, really sophisticated writing. I mean, I'm trying to choose a line to read out a favorite line and they're just also so so special. And they've all got so much gorgeous weight to them. I'll chose this line 'This boy I’m becoming, who munches grief like
a big belly burger, this boy, who sings an hymn
of broken songs.' So that's just a glimpse into this piece. And it just hits you with lines like that consistently. It's so well written and as I say, with pieces like this, it's quite similar in line length. And I tend to sometimes get a bit lost in those pieces. But it really pulls you in is really clever. It's some really unique imagery in there. And I think the best bit about this piece is the tone that shines through this really, really wonderful narration. It's got a really gorgeous element to it. And I highly recommend you give this a read for yourself because honestly every line you can just sink into. I highly recommend this piece.
And the next piece in the issue is Ashley Cline's 'yellow bruise, in F# Major (god bless Carly Rae Jepsen)' This is a really fantastic piece. This piece is broken up by forward slashes, I love these types of pieces. I really like looking at each individual line. I think they're so clever. And I think again, they're really hard to do. It's hard to sort of pull focus in on these pieces and make your reader feel engaged. But this is something that this is something really pulls me in and if I am ever lost, it's in the beauty of the lines, not within the piece. So Ashley does a really good job of that. A few of my favorite lines would be 'until it hangs shimmering like caramel' 'lovers unspooling their legs from' 'the split lips of diner-booth vinyl' its really, really well written. And there are so many parts of this piece that I mean it reads such a fantastic flow, which again is a tricky thing to do. And it's broken up by all these forward slashes, but the piece really does flow so well. It's so well written so intelligently constructed, and we just have these gorgeous, gorgeous lines. Another really great one I love is 'the way it clings to your skin like a bramble, feral', the forward slashes are really interesting here because the piece is so well written and so immersive that you just keep reading. And it's almost like you have these tiny barries within the pieces. But you're sort of wanting to push through them and get to the next line. And it really interestingly sort of adds a different perspective to the pacing of this piece. And I really like the way that Ashley is interacting with the reader here. It is a brilliant, brilliant piece. And I was just I mean the first time I read it so hungrily to get to the next line and the more you read it, I think the more you fall in love with this piece and the way that language is used. And the way this narrative is told in, you know, just a few lines really, it's a really, really special piece, a really well constructed piece, I highly recommend you check this piece out.
And the next piece is 'Painting in Bright Blues' by Zoë. And this has a lovely sense of color and tone within the narrative in this piece. There are some really, really beautiful lines. The line I particularly like is 'of gone, baby, gone. She’s been painting in bright blues,
Mediterranean light, breaking herself out of the northeast.' Just brilliant. I love the way the lines all sort of run into the next stanzas on this piece. I think it's a really interesting way of storytelling. It's got a really engaging opening. It's so well written, I mean, the way this narrative unfolds is just brilliant. And, you know, each stanza really does, you know, push the story forward, really drive it forward with this gorgeous, gorgeous language. And you end up just being immersed in this fantastic story. I mean, especially at the ending of this piece, the intensity really, really ramps up. And it's done so well to sort of drive the story home, and, and, and so wonderfully, endings are just so, so difficult to do, especially in poetry, which has such an interesting pacing and does so many great things with the way the story unfolds, to tie that all together and bring it in and still hit as impactfully as the rest of the piece does. And keep that high level consistent writing is a really difficult thing to do. And Zoë does this fantastically. Another thing this piece does that I really enjoy when reading poetry is it really sort of harnesses the senses, we have so much feel and taste and smell. It's really brilliant. And I love that sense of immersive writing. But again, really interacts with the reader, I feel like I'm being pulled into this piece, which is something I love to do. I read poetry when I want to feel a different world. And this piece does that absolutely perfectly. Zoë's just written such a high quality piece here, that tells such a wonderful narrative. In some really wonderful standards, I mean, the each stanza is three lines long, and the lines are gorgeous. And they just consistently keep your attention and make you want to read more.
And so the next piece we're going to be taking a look at is 'Bombardier' by Daniel Liu. And this, again, is just a brilliant, brilliant piece. And this piece is written in short lines. And I think this is a really, really interesting way of writing. And this is exactly the type of writing that I love. Because it's so tight, so bold and confident, and it has to be well executed. And Daniel really, really does this piece well. If I had to choose a favorite line, I mean, there's so many, a line that I keep coming back to keep reading is 'Each bone crushed, each
curved vowel rotten on my tongue'. This piece is so well written, it flows incredibly. And each sort of line is so powerful, I think it is a really interesting way of storytelling, the way that these really short sentences spread out across the piece. It's just fantastic. I mean, I mean that way of splitting up these sentences just add so much to this piece. I've reread this piece many, many times now. And each time, I'm just so in awe of how this is written and how cleverly Daniels constructed this piece. I really, really haven't read, you know any pieces like this I don't think, in the way that these short sentences build a piece. And at first reflection and first sight, you might not notice it because the lines are quite long. And it looks fairly traditional just on first glance, then when you go into the piece, you realize how many fantastic things are going on. And how well the story is being told so tightly, and so confidently. It just means that the short sentences that you can really get within the story, there's no sort of hard work that you have to do as a reader, Daniel presents the piece and invites you in. So it just adds really much your reading experience because you can just come into the piece, and you're submerged instantly. And you just falling into the short sentences, sort of, you know, really excited for the next one to sort of build on this narrative. Each one, you know, just adds another layer to the piece. And it all builds this wonderful ending. I love the way that this this piece in the story is built up. The ending of this piece is probably my favorite part. I love the way and I don't want to spoil it too much I think you just need to read this one and see what I mean. But I am very much in awe of this writing style. And it's definitely something but I'd be really interested to see more of Daniel's work. And I wish I could write as well as Daniel does.
And the next piece we're going to be looking at is 'My Greed, My Feed' by Nicole. And this is a beatiful piece, really long, which is fantastic. Most of the poetry I read the full House and most of the poetry I just tend to come across is quite short, you know, it's rarely longer than 35 lines. And this is such a fun piece to read. It's so well written I love the way that imagery is used and the way that we have this sort of nature threading across the piece is just gorgeous and it does so many lovely things. And I just think the imagery in this piece is beautiful. And the way that this consistently is threaded throughout the piece is really hard. I mean, it's really hard to keep things consistent in, you know, a piece that's 10 lines, let alone this gorgeous, gorgeous, longer piece. I just think it's brilliant, how well the themes of in this piece have been threaded throughout. And it really means that you're engaged in the story, and you're not sort of thrown about from idea to idea. Things are just built upon slowly, and then we get more detail to build our narrative. And it's just so well written. I think a favorite line of mine would be 'Instead of sloshing through frantic red-hot paths, why does this burning happen in solitude, when no one picks up the phone.' I love that. I think it's so good. I mean, it's so tricky to choose a favorite segment to this piece, because there's so much I mean, to consistently write, with this high quality and have every line just really really, you know, bounce out to you, and just stand out as really high quality writing. It's just something that's so tricky to do. I mean, I think it's a brilliant, brilliant piece. And I can totally see why kissing dynamite have chosen this piece. I'm very grateful to have the chance to read it and learn of Nicole's work. Because I just think it's so so talented to be able to write a piece of this length, you know, keep a reader's attention and unravel a wonderful narrative. And just really hit home with gorgeous, gorgeous imagery, a brilliant piece. And I highly recommend you check this one out.
And the next piece we're going to be looking at is 'Golden Shovel for Desire' by Kaleigh. And this is a fantastic piece. So I'll just read you the sort of first sentence because I think that so beautifully sums up and sets the scene for the piece, 'The World asks me: what are you? I readjust my cap and respond: well, that depends on who is asking. and if we plan on fucking,' a fantastic opening sort of segment, that's the first line and most of the second line. I mean, that pulled me in instantly I was like, I have to read the rest of this piece. So such a strong opening. And it's sort of written throughout with this italic. And it's this back and forth between the I, and the world. Which is such an interesting way of storytelling. And I've not read a piece like this before, I think it's brilliant. I think it's so bold and brave. And it does so much with the language. And it's written in such a simple, tight, confident way that really pulls you in as a reader is so immersive in that way. And I love the italics, I think they work so well within this piece. It really does feel more of like this sort of dialogue. But I think you're sort of invited into it as well. It feels sometimes like a script with the colons. I think it's sort of merges a lot of different things and does it really well. It's it's really, really brilliant. I just think it's fantastic. I mean, these lines, for example, 'sexy about the unexplainable, I get it. something dainty
about the promise of Death’s caress', just fantastically written, it's got such a gorgeous flow as well within this piece. I mean, so so well written, you know, the writing that you can only dream to write because it's so well constructed. It's got such, you know, talent within the writing, I mean, this, I don't know how long this took to construct, but this would take me forever, and I would never be able to get it as perfect and wonderful as this piece comes across. I think there's something really sort of honest about this piece that comes across in the tone, and within the narration. And I like these pieces the best, because I think the writing really, you know, hits hard and it really comes across. I love the way we have these sort of characters. I just think it's absolutely fantastic. And the metaphors and imagery used is is brilliant and is just done so well. And I really highly recommend you have a read of this piece. I've read it a few times now and I keep you know having a distance just wanting to go back and reread it because I think there's so much within here. My standard that's my favorite is the third from the bottom. I think it's just a really, really well written stanza. One of the best stanzas you know I've ever read from a piece of poetry. It's a really brilliant piece and you just need to read this one for yourself and see exactly what I mean. I mean that last line pack such a punch and it's fantastic. Golden Shovel for Desire, definitely go and read that, stop you are doing and pause the podcast, go read that piece and then come back.
And then now we're going to be looking at 'The multiverse collapses and I meet my selfish self
' by Ami. I mean that title already is brilliant. And I think titles are so important. And this is just an example of a title that, you know, it's not one you're going to forget, this is one that is showing so much personality, and you just know this piece is gonna be fantastic. By that title. This is clearly a title that, you know, that is thought out, it's not just, you know, this title sort of adds to the story of the piece, which is one of the best things that the title does. And not a lot of people, you know, get this right sometimes, but, you know, Ami's done a fantastic job of already pulling me in just from the title, which is something that sometimes I do tend to overlook if it is quite a familiar word or phrase. So this piece is so good, I really liked the way it's written. We have these questions in this middle section that keep pulling me back in. I love the way that the tone is written in this piece is exactly the type of piece that I really, really enjoy reading tone wise. A favorite line would probably be what 'What frequency is our freedom, and how the fuck do I fix this broken nob? Night collapses around us.' Fantastic. It's so well written. And I mean, I don't, there's so many good things to say about this piece. I mean, choosing a favorite line is hard enough. I have the pieces up when I speak about them, and this is the type of piece where you sort of just get lost and you just want to carry on reading. I mean, it's hard to sort of not just reread this piece and read this piece, because it just has so many brilliant things. I mean, another favorite line, 'A train tumbles from one dreary shipyard to another.' I really like the way that these things are described. I mean, these are not descriptions that, you know, I often see I feel like there's a lot of the writer coming through and showing the you know, control and command over language here. It is an absolutely brilliant piece. I really like the ending, 'It’s familiar, the lack, the craving of wanting and never feeling full.' Such a brilliant piece. It's such a powerful ending, and it does so much. It's such a wonderful piece, I highly, highly recommend that you check that one out.
And so the last piece of this issue is '4 AM Vitals' by Emma Younger, and tonally this is wonderful. Again, so well written, this is such such a fantastic piece. Again, this is hard not to get lost just having it up on the screen while I'm speaking about it. Because it's the type of thing where you start just reading one of the lines, and it's so hard to pull yourself away. Because you do just get so much within the writing. If I did have to pick a few favorite lines, and it has to be a few, I can't just choose one, this whole piece is just so beautifully written. If only I could write just as well as Emma does, I would I'd be so I'd be delighted. But a few lines I really enjoy is 'i want a bedtime story & a forehead kiss. she checks my pulse,' love that segment. And I really love this segment at the end. '& i want to ask her to tuck me back into my
sheet thin plastic cocoon. i am a moth at a damp beach, wings covered with sand.' Just brilliant, just absolutely brilliant. It's so so great. I love the way that we get this tiny glimpse in time. And so much imagery is built up around. I feel like it's such a great piece that tells such a powerful narrative in some really beautiful imagery and description. And I mean the writing this piece is just of such a high quality. I really, really love it. And this is a piece that I think well, I mean, it's stuck with me, every time I've sort of separate from it and going about my day, this piece it's floating at the back of my mind and I found myself wanting to go back and reread it. And I don't think this is going to leave my mind for a while it's so well written and I just really think the story is told in such such a well constructed and clever way. The ending is just fantastic. Emma is a fantastic, fantastic writer, and you need to go and check Emma and this piece out. And I'm now really excited to go and find more of Emma's work because this writing style is phenomenal. And you know, it's so rare that I find such a high quality writing that I just am in awe with. So yeah, I'm really excited to now go on from here and find out more from Emma and read some more of Emma's pieces.
And that brings us to the end of kissing dynamite's issue 34. I mean, I'm just blown away by the high level, high quality, you know, pieces in there. It was just such a brilliant read. It really sort of reminded me of why I love writing and why I love reading. So that was just a phenomenal experience. And I highly recommend you look at kissing dynamite and go back and look at their issues. The writers they publish are brilliant and the work they do is fantastic, they are wonderful, wonderful journal, submit to them, read their pieces, learn about them. They are wonderful.
And that brings us to the end of this podcast. Thank you so much for popping along and we'll see you the next one.