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July's CSR Feature: Stories Written on Lined Paper Discussion Day



Well, this month was a little different with an anthology of sorts by a single author, giving you the chance to pick and choose among the stories if you weren't up to reading all of them. Make sure you share your thoughts in the comments below, but first, enjoy this interview where Drew spills all (including what story he cameos in... can you guess which one before you read it?)

Do you eat your fruits and vegetables?

Yes, I try to get my five portions a day. What’s a good meal without vegetables?

What’s one location you’d love to go to research for a story?

Paris or Berlin, because both are amazing cities with so much in them that inspires my imagination. They are cities that have such varied neighbourhoods. But with all the travel restrictions, I’ll choose the British Library because I can research whatever I want there, and their café is nice.

What’s something personal about you people might be surprised to know?

I have a model railway.

What’s the best part of being an author?

I can explore the themes and issues that are important to me, but emotionally nothing compares to when something I write touches/moves a reader

What’s the greatest challenge of being an author?

Not enough time. I have so many ideas and not enough time to write them. After that is the challenge of promoting my own writing. GA has given me a great platform to find readers but I’ve recently self-published a collection of stories and promoting it, so I can find readers for it, is such hard work.

If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be?

Recently I have been re-reading stories I wrote back in my twenties. Some are good, some are okay and some are plain awful. I would tell my younger self to write about the things that were happening around me (They were certainly interesting times), the things that were happening to you, rather than my wish fulfilment over what I wanted to happen. I would tell myself to stop over-writing and learn to type.

I would also tell myself to have confidence in my writing and to send it out to publishers and magazines (I didn’t start doing that until well into my thirties).

And lastly, I’d say to join a writing group because honest feedback can really benefit my writing, and meeting with other writers is so helpful.

What’s your favorite story in Stories Written on Lined Paper?

Out of the Valley. This story is based (Though very loosely based) on the breakup with my first boyfriend. I took a painful experience and worked through it by writing about it. It was one of the first stories I wrote about being gay.

I came back to it twenties years after writing it and did a big rewrite to it, especially changing the ending. But I kept the central character and the structure of it. It showed me that I could understand these situations and people, even back then.

Is there a particular character you most identify with, and how so?

Davie, the nurse, in The Longest Day Must Have an End (Found in Stories Written on Lined Paper).

He is a minor character but he is the first time I put myself fully into a story, he is a cameo appearance by me (Like Alfred Hitchcock did in his films). His job, on that ward, was my first job after qualifying, he has my hairstyle from then, he has my attitude and manner from then, and he is shagging a senior colleague which I did in that job. I don’t make cameos in my writing much, if at all, and this was the first time I did it. I liked making my own experience a minor story line.

Over how many years have you written these stories? Have you found your craft has changed in that time?

I started writing prose when I was twenty and started writing about being gay when I was twenty-two. I’m fifty-five next week.

I have been writing all that time and practice has improved my writing, but also so has reading. Learning from the best authors and learning what not to do from the bad ones. I have also learnt from honest/good feedback. The feedback that has helped me to improve my writing, though I’ve had to learn what is good feedback and what is bad, and should be just ignored.

I’ve learnt not to over-write, to keep my style readable, using three words when one could do can easily put off readers. I’ve learnt to use my experience of people and my knowledge in my writing, if I make my writing more real then readers can relate to it, even when writing fantasy. I have also learnt to trust my instincts and knowledge on where a story should go.

Can you share something about your current or future work with readers?

I am writing a story about a young man just released from prison. The story looks at what led him to prison and what happened to him while he was there. I hope to start posting it, chapter by chapter, soon. Then I really need to finish the other two stories in the series I started with A Walk Along the Promenade.

I am looking at self-publishing more. I am working on a collection of stories about people facing life-changing experiences.

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