Thanks to everyone for taking part in Indie Month 2015!
Hope to see you next year…
To round out Indie Month, we’re talking to AfW regular Tony Talbot…
Tony Talbot started writing short stories in 2008, after a dream he had and couldn’t shake; Finally his wife told him to write it down or stop talking about it.
He wrote his first Young Adult novel, Over the Mountain, in 2008, and has completed several others and a growing raft of short stories since.
He lives in a village in Leicestershire, UK, with an American wife he met online and two cats. As well as writing, he enjoys reading, playing on the Wii-U and not getting enough exercise.
What is you favourite way to spend a rainy day?
Listening to it and watching it from somewhere dry. I love a good rainstorm.
You’ve found a time machine on your driveway this morning – where are you going to go in it?
Forward a week so I can sell it to myself on Ebay.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
A laptop, A Kindle with a solar charger and a good internet connection. And an endless supply of Jelly Beans.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
Oh, so many! To Kill a Mockingbird is just sublime, as good as it gets.
How do you react to a bad review?
Sulk for weeks. Tear my hair out. Then go and write something else. You’re never going to please everyone, so if most people like it, you’re on to something.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
Mostly it was shock! “They liked it! I’m getting paid for doing this, can you believe it?”
One food you would never eat?
Broccoli. It’s just not right, and I don’t trust it one bit. I always feel like it’s judging me.
What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?
Having reviewers saying that something made them cry, or carried them away to another world for a while. That’s pretty amazing.
What was your favorite book when you were younger?
Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton. I adored that book, and I still have a copy.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Never give up. And always put everything you have into everything you write.
If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
I’d love to be right at the place and time where we know, without a doubt, that aliens are communicating with us. To look into the sky that night, point at a white dot among the millions and say, “There they are.”
What is your favorite Quote?
Currently, not one from a book, but from a maintenance plate on an elevator / lift: Keep well oiled to ensure satisfaction.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
A librarian for a while. An undertaker (I thought: it’s great job security!). It was always something always bookish and indoors-y.
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
Wil Wheaton. He’s about four days older than me, so the age is right for a start. He’s a great actor, very under used talent. I think he could pull off playing the Shining Light that is Me.😉
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Dean Koontz for seeing the tragedies of the world with humour; Stephen King for seeing the horror that lurks inside normal people; Charles Dickens for his characterisation.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Oh, all of them are parts of me, the good bits and the bad. The lovers of rainstorms and the socially awkward teenagers.
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?
There was a photo essay the other week in “The Atlantic” – they have a cool photo section – and it was people who dress as zombies and then go and parade through cities. I thought: What about if real zombies were in there as well and no one noticed – they all thought they were REALLY good at staying in character while they ate people’s brains…And how would the cops know who to take down or arrest?
Double jointed thumbs – both of them. It’s a little freaky.
What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
Star Wars Episode VII. It’s going to be BIG.
Cats or Dog?
I have two cats now, so I’m heading towards cats on this one…
Apples or Oranges?
Oranges if they don’t have pips. Apples if they aren’t too mushy.
Cause or Effect?
Oh, effects. They’re much more fun, aren’t they?
Heads or Tails?
Heads. Always heads.
Facebook or Twitter?
Facebook. Twitter is a strange, truncated world…
Truth or Dare?
Truth. Or maybe dare. Is there a third option?
Text or Talk?
Talk. I can’t get the hang of text speak…
Favorite quote from a movie?
“Why is the rum gone?!” Captain Jack Sparrow.
Guest Post: Short Stories 101
I was emailing an Australian friend the other day (Anna Hub). She’s written four novels and just finished a fifth (The Ninth Hunter, well worth looking for when it comes out). But…she’s not sure where to start with short stories.
Most writers start with short stories and progress to novels, so it’s curious to see it the other way round…
“Bigger” (54 words)
“Mick? Did you hear that?” Elbows him awake.
“No. It sounded bigger.”
“Bloody dog then.”
“Yeah. Lots bigger.”
Mick purses lips. “Burglar?”
Eyes wide. “Yeah.”
“Then he can take the bloody cat, bloody dog and bloody kids. Goodnight!”
…the trick with short stories is to use your reader’s knowledge of the world to your advantage. I didn’t need to say these two are in bed and asleep when the story starts; I didn’t need to say it’s most likely the middle of the night (Most burglars don’t work afternoons, after all). “Elbows him awake” takes care of most of that in three words. Mick has a name, but his partner doesn’t. Trim the fat and leave what you need.
Short stories don’t need to be that short either. Technically, anything under 20,000 words is ‘a short story’, so you have a lot of room to move around in. Most of mine come to between 1500 and 3000 words, for example.
The real fun with short stories is to take what the readers assume and find a way to twist the end. So a short story about a man exploring an alien world turns out to be a robot exploring earth, for instance. Or drop in a humorous spin, like “Bigger”.
Here a great one from science fiction master of the twist and short, Frederic Brown:
“Earth was dead after the last atomic war. Nothing grew, nothing lived. The last man sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”
Everything you need is right there. We know who the story is about, we know the world he lives in, and there’s even a hook for suspense. Twenty seven words to create a world and tell a story.
Shorter than that? Here’s a (possibly apocryphal) story from Ernest Hemingway:
“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
Short stories are a great way of perfecting the art of keeping the bits you don’t need out of your novels as well. Sharpen your skills on them and it will always serve you well.
(Reblogged from Musings: The Blog of Tony Talbot)
Where can we find you?
Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Tony!