A question for Pauline Yates

Q: What distracts you?

A: I’d like to say I’m not easily distracted, but it’s a different matter entirely when an idea for a story pops into my head. A concept, word, title, or the temptation of ‘what if’ can distract me from my usual day-to-day life of being a wife to a patient husband and mum to three very loved children. When a story grabs me, I can write until sunrise, yet still function through the day as though I’d slept better than Sleeping Beauty. I am guilty of not being present when these moments strike. I might be baking that pie or making a bed, but in my mind, I’m firmly in my story and I stay there until the story is done. I have learnt over the years not to bore my family with the messy details of an evolving story, but they are very good critics, and no story gets sent anywhere without at least one of them reading the final copy first.

Pauline Yates’s story “An Aftertaste of Earth” was published on Friday, 25 August 2017.
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A question for Paul A. Hamilton

Q: Have you ever consciously written a ‘message’ story? Was it easier or harder than usual?

A: I have occasionally written ‘message’ stories; although I generally feel that any stories should have something to say when it’s deemed complete. But there is a difference between teasing out a theme and point of view from a story during revision and going into the writing process with a particular message in mind. I think in some ways writing to a particular message can make the writing easier because you can infuse scenes and characters with aspects that build on the message and that can be easier than trying to edit them in after the fact (for me, I find it makes for fewer darlings that need to be killed later on). But unless I have the bones of the story and the theme both established ahead of time, it does sometimes shift the challenge from the editing process to the initial writing as I find sometimes I have something to say but lack the details necessary to say it in a fresh and interesting way.

Paul A. Hamilton’s story “Oven Game” was published on Friday, 18 August 2017.
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A question for Kimberly Kaufman

Q: What is the hardest part of writing for you?

A: Re-writing, revising, and editing! It is not only difficult to find the time needed for a re-write, but it can be difficult to remain inspired when you’re sweating over a piece of writing and struggling to find the right words to convey the concept you have in your head. It is the “easy” part of writing— the concept and character— that forces me to continue with a piece, no matter how exhausted I am. Without that character encouraging me, I would probably not write at all.

Kimberly Kaufman’s story “What Have You Done to Be Happy Today?” was
published on Friday, 11 August 2017.

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Another question for Karl Dandenell

Q: What is the most effort you’ve ever put into making dinner?

A: Once, when trying to impress a date, I attempted to make surf and turf with rice pilaf on an old electric stove that had only 3 functional burners. I went to three stores (and spent most of my grocery budget for the week) to get all the ingredients.

I’d never cooked lobster before, and didn’t think to follow a recipe. I also used a cut of filet minion suitable for a single serving (not two). And I started the rice pilaf 35 minutes before my date was supposed to arrive.

Now rice pilaf takes a long time to cook properly – you really need to mince the onion and use a hot pan — but not too hot — to get the rice consistency just so. You also have to keep an eye on things. If the stock boils too fast, things burn. Too slow, and you get soup. Ideally, I like about 45 minutes to do the dish properly.

So, with minimal counter space, I tried to balance the prep and cooking for three dishes with the goal of having everything finished at the same time.

I was not successful. The steak was fine, the lobster passable, but the pilaf turned into porridge.

Still, two out of three was enough to impress the young lady.

Karl Dandenell’s story “Papa Pedro’s Children” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 28 July 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.

A question for Charlotte H. Lee

Q: Is there a specific environment you find most conducive to writing, and is it different for different kinds of scenes?

A: I wish I were the kind of person that could write well anywhere. I’ve tried writing in a coffee shop or other public place, but I’m far too easily distracted and I end up watching people most of the time instead of working. The same goes for having a television or radio on. When my kids were younger I could write while keeping an ear out for them, but now I can’t work with them around at all because I’d much rather just hang out and chat with them. These days I write best in a quiet room painted in cool colours with the temperature kept just a shade below where I’m most comfortable so I stay alert. I try to keep my desk neat, but usually it’s a little cluttered with items that have memories attached, evoking specific emotions that I can use to shape a character’s voice or the tone of a scene. It’s a little crazy what a little bottle of wood glue can bring to mind.

Charlotte H. Lee’s story “HOPper” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 21 July 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.