Welcome to the five hundred and twenty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with short story author and regular Flash Fiction Fridays contributor Christopher Farley. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Chris. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Chris: I moved to Lugano in southern Switzerland 11 years ago to follow my girlfriend. We’re still together so we made the right choice. I’ve always read and I still only read purely for relaxation and enjoyment in English, although I (have to) speak Italian as my second language. My love of reading progressed to writing.
Morgen: The best of both worlds (literally, by the sound of it) as every writer should be a reader too (I’m currently marking the first batch of entries to the H.E. Bates short story competition that one of my writing group runs – I’m in my element!). What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Chris: I’m still at an early stage really. I have to read everything although I must say when I pick up a Stephen King book it’s like talking to an old friend. I can’t watch horror films but horror books can be fantastic.
Morgen: They can. I blame Stephen King for me wearing glasses (in my teens I’d buy his novels on the day of release and read them under the covers with a torch). What have you had published to-date?
Chris: So far only letters although one was star letter of Newsweek back in November and it does have worldwide circulation so it made me proud.
Morgen: And three short stories on my blog of course (the latest being The Main Course) which have gone from Switzerland to the UK and I know beyond (half of my blog’s traffic is from the U.S.), although there’s nothing quite like seeing your name in print, is there. What are you working on at the moment?
Chris: I’m halfway through a comprehensive writing course at present so I am knuckling down with that and dabbing at my other bits and pieces.
Morgen: Yes, you did mention that in one of your emails. Hard work I’m sure but hopefully very rewarding. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Chris: I wish. My work is very hectic and I have to prioritise, many times I arrive late and have little enthusiasm to get in front of the computer again.
Morgen: Life does have a habit of getting in the way. I’m at home full-time but had to set up my 5pm fiction slot in order to write every day. I’ll be doing my fifth NaNoWriMo this November so I’ll have a month off the 5pms, although I do plan to report on my progress around that time most days… to keep me on my toes (last year I wrote 3,000 words on Day 1 then nothing ’til Day 22 so, as you can imagine, was a rush to finish (I did with, from memory, about an hour to spare). Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Chris: So far it has been to run with an idea. I have several things at early stages which I’ve not touched for a while, which makes me wonder if plot would be a handy tool to have.
Morgen: Most authors I’ve spoken to are ‘pantsers’ (I love that term) and it works for them (I’m the same) but some find they work much better with plot. I suppose the thing to do is try both and see how you get on. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Chris: Not really, I have the idea for a story, or part of a story, and my characters stem from necessity to that.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Chris: I’m a fan of editing. I rarely let anything remain untouched.
Morgen: And I bet you’re like probably every other writer where you can tinker for ever unless you say enough is enough and let it go. Do you have to do much research?
Chris: I have one project slowly taking shape which does, and will necessitate some research but normally no, especially for short stories.
Morgen: At least these days we have Google, Wikipedia etc. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Chris: So far third person. I’ve never attempted second person.
Morgen: It’s great fun. I think so anyway and I think you’d be good at it as your writing is quite dark. I would like to see more of it on the FFF page. Do you write any poetry or non-fiction?
Chris: Poetry no although I write non-fiction articles.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Chris: Too early to say.
Morgen: That’s good. I like to think that if something’s well-written it’ll find a home and now we have eBooks, it’s easier to find that audience… OK, not easy but accessible. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Chris: Onwards and upwards although it’s better if you receive an accompanying comment for the rejection.
Morgen: It would be good, although most editors etc. don’t have the time (which is a shame as we learnt from constructive criticism). Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Chris: No, too early and yes, they can be.
Morgen: What’s your least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Chris: Not finding the time to write.
Morgen: I think we all suffer from that. If someone found a way of stretching the hours… What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Chris: I am one so come and join the club.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Chris: I’m a 20th century boy – Richard Burton, Stephen King, Elmore Leonard. They would eat my home-made Cornish pasties, and like them.
Morgen: Three strong men. Interesting conversations I’m sure. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Chris: But since all is well, keep it so: wake not a sleeping wolf. – Shakespeare Henry IV part II
Morgen: I like that. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Chris: It seems and probably is ages since I picked up my guitar.
Morgen: What a shame. My brother (also based in Switzerland) plays the guitar, has longer nails on his right hand and broke his little finger (on his left hand) skiing and can play notes other guitarists can’t reach. Although he’s more into Octopush (underwater hockey) these days. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Chris: Sorry, it’s him again but I found Stephen King’s On Writing invaluable.
Morgen: No apology needed, he and his book have appeared here loads of times. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Chris: On here at the moment
Morgen: I’m very proud of that. And you have a blog (http://talkingtosh.wordpress.com). Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Chris: I’d like to give a big thank you to…. Oh, too early for that as well.
Morgen: A practice speech perhaps. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Chris: How much time do you have?
Morgen: To talk about writing, as long as you like. Anything else, I think I have a space at Christmas. Thank you, Chris.
Christopher Farley. He lived a sheltered life in the wilds of Kent from where he was saved by the written word. So much so that he still corresponds with certain people with A PEN AND PAPER!! Upon moving to London, a bit like Dick Whittington, searching for streets of gold, he happened upon a beautiful Italian lady who later decided to take him to the sunny realm of southern Switzerland, where he can still be found, smiling inanely, continuously in search of Weissbier. When he is not working or drinking he sits in front of the computer, searching for fictional inspiration. His blog is http://talkingtosh.wordpress.com.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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