Welcome, one and all, to another MDM Projects interview. It’s a little ahead of the book week, but that’s okay. You may remember Mel Gough stopping by with a guest post about Twitter pitch parties last year. Now, she’s back to discuss her current projects.
Hi Mel! Welcome back to the site. Today, we’re primarily looking at your appearance in The Muse and The Flame: A Collection of Bizarre Romance. It sounds like an interesting collection. How did you first hear about the anthology? Were you already aware of the publisher, Fluky Fiction, or were they a new discovery for you?
Thank you very much for having me again! It’s a pleasure to be here with my new story.
I came across Fluky Fiction on Twitter about a year ago. So many of my writing discoveries happen via Twitter; as much as social media can be a pain in the neck, it’s also wicked cool.
Shortly after I followed Cara (who owns Fluky Fiction) I saw their call for submissions. I’d been panhandling Wings of Glass for a few months already to the usual literary journals without success. (They’re all great publications, but their slush piles are just too huge.) With Fluky Fiction, I struck gold, because the story was exactly the kind of thing they were looking for. The Muse and The Flame is a collection of love stories, but not of the Happy Ever After variety. The stories feature cannibalism, monsters, nightmares – and death.
What can you tell us about your own entry in the book, Wings of Glass?
It’s a love story, in a way, but it’s not a romance story. The one constant of the romance genre is that your story has to have a Happy Ever After (HEA) ending. Wings of Glass starts with “He’s been dead three months today”, so it didn’t fit the genre. It’s a sad story, and slightly weird, too. It asks a lot of ‘What If’ questions that I would like an answer to, too.
Was the story something that you already had in mind, or did you write it specifically for the anthology?
Wings of Glass had been rattling around in my head for about a year before I put pencil to paper. I had this persistent image of an elven-like child, or doll, or maybe it was some kind of fairy-tale creature, and I knew the story would have to do with death. I wrote it very much without an audience in mind, it was something that just came from somewhere in my subconsciousness. I’m very fortunate that I seem in the right place at the right time when my stories are done and have found such a great home for this story.
When we last spoke on here, you had released A World Apart through NineStar Press. How different was it working on an anthology entry compared to a full-length novel? Was it easier or harder?
I like writing short stories. When I was a fanfic writer, that’s pretty much all I did – proper short stories (which, for me, is something under 10,000 words, but don’t quote me on that) and serialised novellas (10,000 to maybe 40,000 words). I like crafting short fiction and individual chapters. You have time to work on the language, and on writing as a craft. The idea is important in a short story, but the use of language even more so.
When I write a short story, I write every single sentence at least three or four times. I write a draft, then leave it for a while, then come back and change words or sentence structures. I use a thesaurus a lot and listen to a lot of music. I also look at images to get in the right mood. Ideas are easy, I have tons of them. Making them shine on paper, and make the reader feel something over such a few pages, is where the challenge lies, and the magic. I think by working on a short story, you work on your craft much more than when you write a novel. I love writing long fiction, and developing a whole, complex and consistent story. But short stories are very, very close to my heart.
What other writing projects are you currently working on?
When I was thinking about this question, I realised that I very much have the kangaroo approach: One joey is in the pouch, one is jumping around outside, and one is still in the uterus (google it, dear reader, it’d take up pages explaining the fertility cycle of kangaroos here).
I have just finished a full-length psychological romance novel, the longest thing I’ve written so far. (That one’s the kangaroo joey jumping around outside.) Then there’s the sequel to A World Apart, which is currently being nurtured by NineStar Press (the kangaroo pouch) and will be coming out later this year. And then there’s a 1950s romance novel that’s currently in utero and being built word by word (and occasionally ripped apart again) by my creative brain cells.
There’s also another short story but I’ve run out of space on the kangaroo analogy, so I can’t talk about that.
Moving away from writing for a moment, you were born and raised in Germany, but now live in London. Was it scary moving to a whole new country at all?
I think I don’t get scared by things other people find frightening. I get plenty scared (like for example when I have to talk to strangers or buy food in a supermarket I’m not familiar with), but I was never scared about leaving Germany. It probably helped that I’d been to London many times when I finally decided to make the jump. And I’ve never wanted to go back.
Was there anything that surprised you when you moved?
How much more polite people are here. And that everyone liked their tea with milk.
Your author profile makes note that you love discussing science with your boyfriend. Are there any particular scientific topics that you go back to again and again?
My boyfriend is into neuroscience. We talk a lot about how people make decisions, and we both like reading books by and about behavioural economists, like Dan Ariely and Daniel Kahneman. We both really liked The Undoing Project, which is a look at Kahneman’s friendship with Amos Tversky.
We also both have an interest in nutrition and physiology and can get quite nerdy talking about metabolism.
Finally, I wanted to thank you for stopping by again. Did you have any final message for readers? Where can they go to learn more about you and your work?
For my readers, I hope you’ll enjoy my short story, and all the other things I’m working on, once they come out.
For those who also write, keep working! You can do it, and I’m looking forward to celebrating your successes with you this year!