AN INTERVIEW WITH CHERYL POWELL
Writer of False God
OPP: What was the first book you read which shook your world?
Lord of the Rings. Had it all going on for a teenager: an epic, immersive experience – love, honour, friendship, betrayal and sacrifice - and plenty of action. Oh, and monsters. Ugly ones.
OPP: What book would you have liked to have written and why?
Catriona Ward’s ‘Last House on Needless Street’ because it is beautifully written and compelling. Part gothic horror, part psychological thriller, it filled me with dread and kept me wrong-footed until the end. You’ve got to be a brilliant writer to have a cat as a POV character. Catriona pulls it off. Wish I had that talent.
OPP: What is your favourite book in translation?
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. When I first realised magical realism was a literary thing.
OPP: I wonder, what is the best advice you can give to a young writer?
Listen to advice but trust your instincts and work to find your own voice and style.
OPP: Cheryl, Which of your stories would make a great film and why?
I think my flash ‘Bullets in the Face’ published by Storgy, could make a great short film because it is disturbing, weirdly violent and visual – and ends on a note of suspense and ambiguity.
AN INTERVIEW WITH BENJAMIN WALLER
Writer of Pier
OPP: What stopped you taking up writing when you first knew you wanted to write?
I recently read school reports from my state primary school that said, ‘Ben’s creative stories are of an exceptionally high level for his age’ and another that said, ‘writes long and imaginative stores of a high standard’. Mind you, it also said, ‘talks too much’ and ‘if no one will listen will talk to himself’! I hadn’t seen these reports until recently, but the comments reinforced how I remembered my total immersion in creativity as a child. Later, I think I lost confidence, and sadly, stopped writing completely in my late teens. But I started writing again (and talking to myself!), when I was older, and the truth is I never really stopped thinking of stories. Finding your path is not always straightforward.
OPP: What are your top tips for young people wanting to write?
Firstly, make sure you do write, rather than spending too much time thinking of writing. Secondly, find a mentor, someone who will champion you, be a good critic yet encourage you through all the inevitable setbacks. Thirdly, don’t let the oft cited ‘rules’ of writing get in the way of thinking of new ways to tell stories; writing requires continuous experimentation as much as continuous learning.
OPP: Can you share your best writer's hack?
Rewrite a scene written from the point of view of another important character in that scene. How do they see things? How do they feel? Assuming you go back to the original POV, you’ll have discovered new conflicts, misunderstandings, and perspectives.
OPP: I wonder, which book has most influenced your style?
Ali Smith, The Accidental.
OPP: Ben, what you are most proud of re: Pier?
I like how the dreamy and endlessly changing quality of the seascape mirrors the ebb and flow of regret and hope.
Ben's writing can be found in, Tales From The Ether, available on Amazon.
AN INTERVIEW WITH CAMERON YANOSCIK
Writer of Graveyard Guardian
OPP: What advice might you give to a young girl or boy who is thinking about being a writer?
I would say—go for it! Even if it just a hobby after schoolwork and other extracurricular activities, it is an entirely fun thing to do. I would first suggest writing about something they like and let the story take them away from there, even doing a “daily” journal or diary is a good way to start writing more consistently. Later they could try out different writing methods and genres, sampling each one to see what they prefer. Overall, I would encourage any young person to write as one never knows where it would lead you in life.
OPP: What text made you realise you wanted to write?
I have been racking my brain over this and find that there is not a definite text but a definite author and his works who have influenced me to write. That is American author Ray Bradbury. From the first books I encountered of his when I was in high school, namely “The Halloween Tree” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and my re-discovering of his works again one Summer as an undergraduate, I love the worlds that he conjures up. I concluded later on that I wanted to write “like him” but in my own unique way. I wanted to explore different realms of prose and verse, the fantastical and the supernatural, and knew if he could do it, so could I.
OPP: Name three writing tips that have really helped you along.
Let the story lead you along but do not let it entirely control you. Always reign in a story when and where necessary.
Revise, revise, revise.
Whenever you have an idea make sure you put to pen to paper before it disappears and you regret not writing it down. It may become some element of a future story.
OPP: How does the writing industry in the USA differ to that in the UK- in your opinion?
Apart from my collaborations with a couple of American and English publishing companies, I may not at this stage of my writing career have formed a complete opinion of the differences between the two. Both have their merits focusing on publishing various genres of literature for different age groups with publishers spending appropriate intervals of time working with authors from book conception to publication. For right now, the only noticeable differences are the use of “American English” vs. “British English” when editing texts that writers have to be aware of concerning the way words are spelled and specifics in grammar (i.e., “the Oxford comma”) coming into play. When in the future I have more works published with companies on both sides of the pond, I will have a better idea than I do now.
OPP: Graveyard Guardian is almost lyrical in quality. If it were to be set to music, what Musical would you want it to be included in, at what point in the action?
That is an interesting notion I never thought about when writing this! If I were to create my own Halloween-themed musical, I could see this piece in the opening number of the show where the eponymous Graveyard Guardian introduces itself as your guide/host to the story. I see the musical as a sort of anthology with different stories interlaced together, all connected by the character of the Graveyard Guardian. Even something related to Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre tales would be interesting where Poe is revealed to be the Graveyard Guardian in the end. Either way, different parts of this prose poem would come to life, almost like a ballad, throughout the course of the musical. The last lines would be revisited in the conclusion where the audience is left with the Graveyard Guardian and possibly other characters, kindred spirits, etc. in the cemetery as Halloween night comes to an end and the curtain falls across the stage.
Cameron's writing can be found in, Tales From The Ether, available on Amazon.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THEA ETNUM
Writer of Soap and A Room For Two