I’m a short story writer – not the most popular of literary sub-genre with the publishing world, which makes it hard to get anyone to take notice. I have tried to write longer stories but have yet to find an idea that wants to expand into a novel. I usually start with an end result in mind and it’s rare that I need more than a couple of thousand words to get my point across. As I’ve developed over the years as a writer I’ve learned to trim almost all of the excess fat from my writing to keep them short and maximise the impact. It’s easy to fill page after page with waffle and it seems the more successful you become as a writer the more indulged that tendency is. I believe in the value of ruthless editing and I’m more likely to be found cutting out words than adding them in.
I also find my writing hard to pigeonhole. I flirt with genre at times but I’ve never really settled on one type of writing. People who have read my stories tend to comment on the dark themes that run through a lot of them but I’ve also written romantic and funny (well, to me anyway) stuff. The main thing I enjoy about my writing is that it produces quite a strong reaction out of readers. It’s been fun hearing people’s reactions to my first full length short story collection – Through The Darkest Door. Some people are shocked or outright disgusted and sometimes I think people who know me find it hard to reconcile the person they know with the person who writes the stories. Then again, I think most people think writers are a bit weird anyway…
On the subject of publishing – indie publishing, in particular – I believe self-publishing is the future of the written word, and sooner or later the big publishing companies are going to have to wake up to this fact or find themselves in the same sorry shape as the music industry. At the moment, big publishers are a bit like MacDonald’s; they put out bland identikit books to pile up on those tables in Waterstones – celebrity autobiographies, film and TV tie-ins, genre fiction, whatever bandwagon is big at the moment (mummy porn, wizards, zombies) and they wonder why sales are dropping off. It’s all about “the brand” these days; I mean, take Tom Clancy for example – he’s been dead two years and still putting out books because there is a segment of the population that will buy anything with his name on it! In saying that, most readers are pretty smart and a lot of them want to be challenged or to try something different but the mainstream doesn’t really offer that. Small publishers like McStorytellers are offering readers a chance to try something new with little to no risk on their part. When I started sending stories to McStorytellers the idea of publishing my own book never even entered my head; all I knew was that there was someone out there who wanted to give me a voice and to gather together other voices like mine to make a mighty roar that could be heard above the white noise of the mainstream.
Aberdeen-based Bill is an avid short story writer with several publications to his name, all of which can be viewed on McVoices.