Our Writer of the Week is debut author Cole Todd. Cole’s story, “Scents And Sensibility”, appears in the October 1 issue.
The story is an innovative one – where did the idea come from?
I have an older sister in real life, and we have always been close – we both have lots of creative hobbies and tell each other about our interests, and when she became interested in perfume we discussed all the different brands.
My absolute favourite is Dior essence, which she gave me – it smells like wild green magic. I also love afternoon tea and eating tiny sandwiches, so it felt natural to set the story there.
Did you need to do any research for the story – like try different scents in a department store perfume aisle?
My sister gave me about twenty different sample bottles by different makers and brands, so I just used them. I have also selflessly researched afternoon teas by going to various cafes and restaurants in and around Edinburgh. The things we do for our craft . . .
Your first story acceptance for the “Friend”. What are your writing hopes for the future?
I love writing cosy short stories, so I’m writing a lot more of those. I also write fantasy and romance novels, and hope to have those traditionally published at some point.
I used to be a couples counsellor and relationship therapist, so I am using my experience from that profession to inform a romance series in which long term couples struggle with common relationship issues, but have a second chance to fall back in love and recommit to each other.
I also adore comic fantasy and have written the first two novels in a series about a fairy godmother who becomes burned out and takes on an apprentice to help with her workload.
Do you think writers can adapt their styles to any type of readership?
I think some writers are very flexible and willing to learn to write in different styles – I’ve had horror flash and poetry published, even though they’re not the main genres or forms I write in.
Some people prefer to write in only one style or genre and don’t want to try anything else, which, of course, is up to them. I think if you’re willing to learn, probably you can do most things if you put the practice in.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I’ve spent most of the last five years writing on my laptop at second-hand dining tables, but last year I moved house and decorated one of the rooms as a writing room – the first writing room I’ve ever had!
I saved up to buy a gorgeous golden desk, which is hand-painted with Chinese cranes for luck, and it has lots of tiny little drawers. I shall keep it for ever and it can become a family heirloom.
P.S., What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Write the bit you’re interested in, not the bit you think you should do. Write the bit you’re thinking of right now. Don’t try to write a story from the beginning in a linear way.
Don’t worry about where the bit goes in the story, or what it’s for or how it might connect to the rest of the story, or even if there is a rest of the story.
Just write the scrap of dialogue or scene or emotion you can see clearly. You’ll be surprised how quickly other bits form to go with it. Then later on, you can fill in the gaps until you have a whole story. There’s much less pressure if you do it that way.