I know it’s been a while, but sometimes life just won’t stop so I can get back to curling up like a sad Hispanic Quasimodo to read in a well lit hay-covered corner for days. Anywho, I’m happy to finally bring you my second Indie Author Interview with the lovely and talented Rebecca Gransden, author of anemogram, her debut novel.
LM: When did you first experience the need to write and to share your stories with others?
RG: I remember the first story I was proud of and recognised as something I’d created. I suppose I must have been around six or seven. It was called The Ten Birds and told the very short tale of a gathering of birds, all landing on a metal bar on a cold day and their feet getting stuck to it. When they flew upwards their bodies popped away, leaving a row of bird legs attached. Young me found this very funny but also a bit sad and in many ways my writing has not progressed very much.
The need to share my writing probably coincided with some acknowledgement that it was something I had a natural inclination toward. Before some encouraging words from teachers it had only fleetingly occurred to me that writing as a way to expression was an option. I suppose trying to write dodgy song lyrics does count as writing of a type, and is beneficial in stripping back and conveying things as succinctly as possible.
LM: What are your creative influences (non-writers included)?
RG: I am very magpielike and disloyal when it comes to influences. There are authors I’ve read consistently but most after beginning to explore writing my own material. I took a great deal of initial inspiration from the alternative music scene growing up, which was messy and fun and always encouraged a sideways glance. It recently occurred to me that REM’s first EP Chronic Town is a massive influence on anemogram, but I only figured this out after I’d written the book. I take a great deal from cinema and two Davids are crucial figures – Lynch and Cronenberg. I have favourite short stories, like Denis Johnson’s Emergency or J.G. Ballard’s The Terminal Beach, and currently the author who inspires the most writer envy is Paul Auster but this will likely change when I wake up tomorrow. I can see the influence of Vladimir Odoevsky’s metaphysical tales on some of my short stories but I name him as one of many.
LM: When do you write? Day/Night?
RG: Typically I’m all over the place but try to hold to the self imposed commitment for the day, whether it be to word count or a scene or whatever, and not let my head hit the pillow before I’m satisfied. Not always possible, unfortunately.
LM: What was your inspiration for anemogram?
RG: This is a question I dread as it came out of nowhere. I needed something as I’d committed to writing it in a month. With no preparation I dived in with a few nebulous ideas and a determination to see if I could actually take a longer piece to completion. I decided on a female protagonist, and wanted to focus on a story that raised some questions around the relationship between men and children that has been an increasing preoccupation of the media. I’m still figuring out where it came from myself, and I see the act of writing it itself as the inspiration. It’s a call for connection really, a massive shout out to the void to see if anything comes back as an echo. anemogram is that echo, for good or bad.
LM: What was the process of writing anemogram, your first novel, like? How did you feel in the beginning vs. after you finished?
RG: On embarking on writing anemogram I was caught up in a rather dreamy panic. Very eager to get something substantial down, that I could hook onto, and searching for a way to instill some meat, enough to justify taking the story onwards. I’m incredibly focused once I’ve committed to something and part of writing anemogram was an attempt to test my mettle. After a long time wrestling with a vague idea of writing a book it took a nudge from a good friend coinciding with me finally being ready to accept that encouragement that enabled me to block out all other considerations and knuckle down. On finishing anemogram I felt a little disconnected from it at first and then relief that I’d actually managed to finish a first draft of a short novel. I knew I was capable of that at least.
LM: How did you come up with the title for anemogram?
RG: I cheated and used a random word generator. So much of anemogram appeared out of nowhere that I think this kind of fishing for a name fits with this project. It means “a record of the pressure or velocity of the wind, automatically marked by an anemograph”. I wanted something a little intriguing. So much of anemogram is about the spaces between, hence why I chose to place the title as if it was the end of a sentence, the rest of that sentence for the reader to fill in.
LM: Are you working on any new projects? What kind of works/themes can we expect to see more of in the future?
RG: At the moment I’m working on some horror stories for consideration in an upcoming collection. Very fun project as I have a great fondness for pure trash horror, but being me the surreal always makes itself known somehow. I may consider putting out a collection of short stories set in the same universe as anemogram; a fictional setting called Hilligoss, which is a hybrid of places I was familiar with growing up and an invented backdrop that’s an amalgam of various influences. The name Hilligoss I took from the actress, Candace Hilligoss, who played the lead in the film Carnival of Souls. My next novel will have sci-fi elements and will attempt to tackle some big themes on a small scale. I’ve started this but it’s slow progress, so I don’t know when it will be released or even if I’d consider it releasable at any point. It’s an idea I’ve had floating around for years and I expected it to be the first book I would attempt to write. anemogram came along and changed all that. I’m looking forward to getting into something that will be completely consuming.
LM: Why is indie publishing important to you? Why did you choose self-publishing vs. submitting your work to a big publisher?
RG: My writing fits with a more independent ethos. Not in a romantic, outsider way but rather that I don’t want to think about certain restrictions or constraints while I’m writing. I’m not concerned with making money from this. If my book is out there roving about and gets to those who appreciate it then any objectives I have for it are met. For me, self-publishing anemogram has meant that I have a direct way to present my writing. I also feel an incredible sense of responsibility to the indie world to put out the best quality product I can. I certainly did not rush to release anemogram, taking time to do what I could to get the content and formatting to a standard I hope reflects well on the indie community.
LM: What helps get you into a creative mindset for working on your writing?
RG: Fear. The best motivator there is. Oh, and doubt gets a look in. Once I start writing that evaporates and I’m set aside, but those two are the main forces that get me to the laptop. Music also plays a vital role in setting the tone for whatever I’m working on. anemogram would not be the book it is without the influence of the music I was listening to at the time of writing. I put up a YouTube playlist full of tracks that I felt captured some of the feeling of the book.
LM: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
RG: Bill Murray. Because he’s Bill Murray and some shit would go down and fun would be had.
LM: Any final thoughts?
RG: Just to not put limits on anything. I’ve picked this up relatively late with threads from way back. Say what you have to and be damned.
Thanks so much to Rebecca for participating in an interview with IR!! We love our indie authors ❤
Check out her wordpress here: https://rebeccagransden.wordpress.com/
AND BUY HER BOOK!!