Why writing? When did you first know that writing was going to be your calling?
The Why is always the big question, isn’t it? In short, I don’t know. Why does an egg want to become a chicken? I guess it’s just in the DNA. At primary school I loved reading and I loved writing stories. At college I was writing short stories and attempting to write novels, all the time reading voraciously. I guess at some stage of my schooling it occurred to me that this was going to be my calling, but I never truly believed it until my first novel (The Flea Thing) was published back in 2003.
What drew you to the medium of short stories?
I write what I feel compelled to write. A story wriggles its way into my brain and the only way of setting it free (setting me free?) is to write it. It could be a novel, a series, or a short story. So along the path of my novel writing I have also been writing and storing away short stories. It was last year that I wrote one more and decided I had enough for a collection. What were the odds of finding a publisher brave enough to publish it? (Short story collections can be problematic to sell). But along came the amazing people at UQP and the rest is history.
Fear and hope, what compelled you to explore these topics?
Something deep within my psyche, I guess. Because of the way in which these were written, piecemeal over a long period of time, there was no real plan, no compulsion to explore. It was only when I gathered them all together for the collection that I realised that they all seemed to be about fear, and at that stage I wrote another couple of stories (the ideas for which had been kicking around for a long time) that also reflected the theme. Then I took a longer, deeper look and realised that they weren’t really about fear at all. They were about the flipside of fear: hope.
Belonging and inclusion are also themes that runs through That Stubborn Seed of Hope: Stories, can you explain the importance of this?
All stories are pieces of the author set adrift. I think somebody said that. (If not, it was me.) So I think it is easy to infer that belonging and inclusion, and the opposites, have been important aspects of my own life. I know what it is like to be an outsider, looking in, wishing to be part of the inner circle. So I guess these pieces of me have been set adrift over the years that it took to write the stories
What do you hope your readers will take away from the stories you deliver in That Stubborn Seed of Hope: Stories?
That the darkest cloud has a silver lining. That the darkest hour comes just before the dawn. That if you’re going through hell, keep going! These and a thousand other aphorisms. That no matter what, there is always hope.