This collection of fifteen stories contains bizarre medical conditions, industrious creatures, conniving cops, killers, dead bodies, a rescue mission, homoeroticism, nonchalant students, a secret garden, and the road to hell.
Australian author Morgan Bell masterfully blurs dreams and reality into a concoction of whimsical horror, in the form of microfiction, vignettes, and short stories.
“Her eyes were itching and beginning to water, she pawed at them with the backs of her hands until they went red. A mosquito buzzed in her ear, she trod on a bee, and a single line of tiny black ants curled up around her flamingo shin. She began limping, her foot swollen, shaking the other leg like a cat who had stepped on sticky tape.” (Tiptoe Through The Tulips)
“The tune was the call of his love, a tune only he and she knew. But it was different, peppered with some menacing mannerist malice. Constable Skillion swaggered out from the scrub with a shovel slung over his shoulder, tobacco smoke unfurling. He spied Telfer lingering over the dirt mound and stopped his whistling. Telfer snapped to face the silence.” (Telfer Speck)
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I am from Sydney Australia. I am a 32 year old woman working as a civil engineer and technical writer for the local city council. I have two female cats (twins!) named Romilly and Sansa, the latter’s name is a nod to Game of Thrones, the feline version of Sansa Stark.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
My book is a collection of fifteen (very) short stories. Many of the pieces were generated as flash fiction from written or visual story prompts, or were entries in local short story competitions. I moved house at the beginning of the year, which forced this little hoarder to do a big clean out, and I finally collated all the mini-stories that were floating around on scrap pieces of paper in different stacks of unopened mail and study notes around my bedroom. When they are all run together you can see these recurring themes of fear, jealousy, anxiety etc. It’s like the perfect written representation of the inner workings of my mind, and that can be a confronting place to be.
How do you create your characters?
Many of my characters are composite characters of people from my real life, exaggerated of course. Some characters come to me in dreams of develop from songs that I listen to. As I work in roads and traffic, my character names will sometimes be street names of engineering projects I am working on.
What inspires and what got your started in writing?
I am an active part of several writers group near where I live. Being around other creative people both inspires and improves my own work and also gives me a great support network of encouragement and confidence.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
I love being around people when I write, and I need to read my work aloud to myself or a group to edit. I need a constant interaction with people to pluck conversational phrases and gestures out of real life. I need to sit up at a desk or table to write, sometimes I stay back late at my office to work on my creative pieces.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
Ive always been a verbal storyteller (that is a euphemism for a gossip), I orally relay stories out of real life all the time, so given a prompt or a topic I have a huge encyclopedia of stories in my head at any given time. My sister calls me a “people watcher”, and that is an accurate description. I also riff off of vivid dreams that I have, that are usually mashups of real life scenarios, people, or emotions.
What do you like to read?
I am the worlds worst culprit for buying books and not finishing them. The last novel I finished was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and the last short story collection was Deborah Levy’s Black Vodka. I would highly recommend them both as page-turners. I am currently reading two amazing short story collections, on is Australian author Tim Winton’s The Turning (2005), unpredictable everyday domestic dramas, and the other is Jim Crace’s The Devil Larder (2002) which is 64 short fictions about food, really tight smart writing.
What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
Write something you would want to read. Have confidence in everything you write, we are all capable of telling stories.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I really respect blogs like The Pen & Muse for giving a platform to indie writers, in the form of reviews and interviews. I think you are making our literary culture richer and helping “the common people” contribute to a global artistic conversation. In generations past we would have been largely voiceless, but thanks to the internet and enthusiastic bloggers we now get to hear from a diverse range of authors, not just trust-fund babies and the sons and daughters of academics and celebrities.