It has been truly a great honour to have been invited to collaborate on a short story anthology by Readers Avenue Park, among a group of worldwide authors who offer a multitude of styles, genres, topics and characters in their collection Twisted Tales (free on site, also available on amazon). Not to interview them on the subject would be a crying shame, so here’s the first in my string of pearls – an interview with the unique Geoff Nelder.
TWISTED TALES AUTHOR INTERVIEWS
Author: Geoff Nelder
STORY: Prime Meridian
1. Why did you accept to write a short story for Twisted Tales?
Do you know about the blackmail plot to force me contributing a story to Twisted Tales? Gertrude, my secretary (Okay, I share her with two other writers and an artist), thought the twisted adjective meant warped, outrageous, illegal and so submitted story X. X is on an official blacklist you might have heard is kept by MI6. The story contains two words that if released into the world would cause madness, infectious madness. Luckily, I saw the post office receipt and after an English Inquisition torture-based interrogation, Gertrude coughed up about X. Charlie Flowers cursed me for disallowing the inclusion of X and said he would release it if I didn’t provide another story. Well, you asked.
2. What is your story about and what made you write it?
“Your hotel is the only one situated on the Prime Meridian.”
He pulled a pint. “What?”
“Also known as the Greenwich Meridian or longitude zero degrees. It goes from the north pole through Greenwich, all round the globe back to the pole. London is the only city it goes through and your hotel is the only one through which 0 degrees longitude goes through!” I was sure he’d be as excited as the geographer in me was.
The hotelier’s moustache danced. “So?”
“It’s a USP, use it to help fill your rooms, a marketing angle.”
Nothing. I gave up on him but next day I walked from his hotel along the Prime Meridian, as close as I could, all the 18 miles to Bromley. Oddly, I found three businesses relating to space research. Odd because the story I researched was what if a house was hit by a grape-sized micrometeorite every day at 3:15pm? Tired of seeing apocalyptic films with asteroids the size of Whales and Wales hitting the Earth I liked the notion of tiny terror.
Told through the eyes of a teacher who’d inherited a house we experience his quandary on this unique phenomenon. Can he solve it before his house is pummelled to a pyramid of detritus?
3. What is the biggest challenge for you in writing short stories?
Shorts have to be tight, so to speak, they do not possess the luxury of time we have in novels. All stories need conflict to drive interest and plot and for shorts this has to arrive much sooner than for novels. In spite of the forced brevity, the reader needs to be engaged with all their senses and they hope for braiding of plotlines, maybe a twist in the tail and a wow moment all in an hour’s reading. These challenges are not just necessary, they are exhilarating and make them a different, worthy art form. That’s what I say to book groups. In reality I just get more kicks per story out of writing them.
4. What is your favourite famous traditional short story, or short story author and why?
A.L.Kennedy is a young literary writer from Glasgow. She possesses the ability to weave lateral thinking onto the page in such a way that makes author intrusion a pleasure to encounter. Many of her tales carry uncomfortable messages and yet enrich us. My favourite, Christine, is in her collection, Now that you’re back, in which the main character, the woman of the title, is described and encountered by a man who is enamoured by her since schooldays. He is in first person and we never know his name. It is a clever story in a magic realism way with a kind of moral in that the pleasure we seek is deeper than we realise.
The skill of ALK’s writing is such that I hadn’t noticed until three-quarters through the anthology that she hadn’t used any dialogue tags at all.
Phrases I will steal:
‘I have temporarily forgotten how to inhale,’ ‘Something impatient about the sky.’
5. What did you like about writing for Readers Avenue Park?
I wrote for Readers Avenue Park? Hot damn, I thought it was for Rap Inc! They pay real money – Okay in bitcoins but they can be exchanged for special blues at Harrods – well, from a woman with a suitcase behind Harrods.
6. What do you like most about the Twisted Tales?
I didn’t like not getting bitcoins from them. All I got was a slot in an antho with a bunch of weirdos. Cool weirdos but I wanted bitcoins for those special blues, you know?
7. Can you share a favourite quote from your TT story?
“A meteorite the right size to make a hole to fit your finger lands every twenty minutes,” said Cooper.
“My God,” Forrister said, looking up at the sky, as they walked to his house.
“That’s for the whole planet of course. An area the size of London gets a hit of a pea to a grape-size meteorite every three years.”
“You’ll have to readjust your figures ‘cos my house gets one every day.”
“Well it could happen, you know, swarms; but they’re usually seen as meteors like the Leonids, which are fragments of comets. They’re over within twenty-four hours.”
“If it’s not meteorites, maybe it’s one of them?” Forrister said, pointing at the lights of an aircraft heading towards Luton.
“Could be; but I wouldn’t rule out meteorites until I get one in my hands. What do they look like?”
“Haven’t a clue, that’s why you’re coming down into my basement with me to sort out the meteorites from the meteorwrongs.”
“Haha, your basement so unruly you can’t see recent additions?”
“Only been down once to see where I could put a wine rack but there’s too much junk. I’ve only been there two months.”
“Been in mine twenty years and still haven’t sorted the cellar, assuming I have one,” Cooper said.
They searched but couldn’t find any new holes. They shouldered the stiff door to the cellar but it was a near-hopeless task finding the culprits in the assorted boxes and piles of mostly metal junk.
“Your granddad an engineer?”
“Yeah, he had a workshop down here making one-twentieth scale steam engines. Hence all the swarf and black metallic lumps. If they were meteorites what are we looking for?”
“Pieces of black metallic lumps,” Cooper said, glumly.
8. Any message for TT readers or potential readers?
Read Prime Meridian slowly. It took me two months to research and write it and I hate it when readers tell me they only took an hour to read it.
Geoff Nelder’s Links