Tracey chats to Val Bowes who has a story in this week’s issue
Q1 What inspired your story “On Stormy Seas”?
It was a legend, actually from rather further south than Yorkshire, about a patch of mist that’s supposed to be a Norse warrior waiting for a boat to take him home. But a lot of Norsemen brought their families over and stayed, to be inextricably mixed into this country’s DNA. And I’ve a friend who’s a sea-kayaker!
Q2 How long have you been writing fiction?
Always, I think. I started sending stories to all the magazines who take fiction some 20 years ago, and got so many rejections I could have papered a room with them. But gradually, my writing improved and I got to know better what was wanted.
Q3 We’ve noticed your enjoyment of writing spookier stories? Is this your favourite genre?
I have to admit, I do like writing stories with a tinge of mystery about them, but I’m also passionate about history and very often set my stories in earlier centuries. I’m not very tech-savvy and, if I’m writing about times before mobiles and similar things, I can’t put my foot in it! But I’ve written everything from humour to romance to crime.
Q4 What do you find the hardest part about writing a short story? Having the idea, getting the characters just right?
Getting the idea in the first place, definitely. Sometimes the characters take over and write the story themselves – which is very handy!
Q5 Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I write straight onto a PC. With a notebook and pencil I can’t see the shape of the story for all the crossings-out and arrows rearranging the sequence of the sentences. The computer faces a blank wall, but there’s usually a dog snoring on the settee behind me.
P.S. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read, read, read. Write, write write. Yes, I know it’s a cliche, but it works. Learn, from both rejections and successes, but never give up.