I met Bristol writer Judy Darley last autumn at a Bristol Literature Festival event and last week I reviewed her great short story collection over on the Unchained blog. For those who can’t be at tomorrow’s launch of Remember Me To The Bees, (or even for those who can!) here are her rather intriguing answers to those writing question that have been doing the rounds.
1) What am I working on?
Gosh, as always so very many things. I task myself with writing a short story every month, and am just giving the one for March a final polish. It came to me with a rush and an image of a very bright blue suitcase on a luggage carousel, and begins with the protagonist stealing it. My sister actually did this – not intentionally, but, still, she walked away with someone else’s suitcase and didn’t notice till she got home. Mind-boggling!
I’m also working my way through a revision of a novel I thought I’d finished. Feeling very excited about this, as it seems like I’m finally getting it to express what I want it to – which is harder than you might think.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’ve been told that my short stories read like novels, with layer upon layer of plots and sub-plots, so maybe I’m the writer of short stories for people who don’t think they’d find short stories sufficiently satisfying compared to novels. I’m also told I have quite a poetic way with words, which I think is probably because I love the visual arts and try to incorporate a sense of colour and texture into my prose.
It helps me to make sense of things. The majority of the fiction I write is to answer questions for myself. Why did this happen? What make someone behave like that? How did this result in that? I’m also endlessly fascinated in the way our experiences and cultural influences shape our understanding of the world, which is probably why my protagonists are often a little damaged in some way.
4) How does my writing process work?
I work as a freelance journalist, which means spending up to four days a week in publishing offices. If I’m struck with inspiration I’ll use my lunch hour or train journeys to and from work to write.
On the happy, happy days when I’m working from home, I tend to get up relatively, grab my laptop, and curl back in bed, then write as much as possible before my brain is fully awake. Once my head has been tidily emptied, if the sun is shining I like to go for a run to give myself a chance to think about the next bit of the tale. That’s my plotting time, and the more ideas that flood me, the faster I have to run to get back home and stick it all on the page. Exhausting but effective!
For me the thinking time, whether that’s while running, waiting for trains or cleaning the bathroom, are the most crucial times, easing the fiction from my subconscious into the light.
Thanks to Judy for coming along and providing these gorgeous pictures too. I can really recommend her short story collection and can’t wait to hear more about That Novel.
As is the way with these things, I’ll be answering the same questions ‘over hers’ before too long.
Judy Darley’s short stories, flash fiction and poems have been published by literary magazines and anthologies including The Germ, Riptide journal, Litro Magazine, and The View From Here. She also writes extensively as a freelance journalist for magazines. Judy’s debut short story collection Remember Me To The Bees is launching on 31st March 2014, available to buy from http://www.tangentbooks.co.uk/products/Remember-Me-To-The-Bees.html. Judy blogs at www.skylightrain.com and tweets at @EssentialWriter