Love Substitutes

This week we interviewed the fabulous Kirsty Logan about her book ‘The Rental Heart’, her experiences being a queer author writing queer stories, and what the road to success looks like, sharing some top-tips for early-career publishing!

Kirsty Logan Mirror

Photo cedit: Monkeytwizzle

Me: So Kirsty, you’re a published author, which is awesome!

Could you tell us a little bit about your journey to this point: how you got here, how you got started, and how you became successfully published?

KL: Well, I guess like most people, when I look back it seems like a very clean neat path. But it wasn’t at the time: it was very stop-start. You try things, they don’t work, so you try other things… And then when you look back it’s really easy to just trace a nice, clean line. But it’s not really like that at the time. I mean I always wrote when I was a little kid: but there were other things that I wanted to do. For a while I wanted to be a combination of farmer, author and nail technician.

Me: interesting….

KL: I don’t know why….

Me: And the farmer and the nail technician…

KL: They fell away at some point. I don’t know why I liked that combo, but there you go! And so I just kept studying, went to Stirling Uni to study English… Actually started out studying psychology, which actually makes sense that as a writer you study psychology, because it’s all about why do people do what they do. But then did English, and took a year out and did bits a pieces… Got my tonsils out! Did a bit of travelling around Eastern Europe. And then I came back and did a postgrad in creative writing and honestly it was only when I got onto that course that I started taking my work seriously. Up until that point, you know I knew that I loved books, and I loved writing, but I didn’t really think that I could do it! I mean I knew that people did write books, I knew they didn’t just appear! But, I didn’t really think that I could be the one that would write them, because it seemed so distant and lofty. I don’t think it helps sometimes studying literature because you’re studying the absolute pinnacle of literary production and you read them and think I’m never going to write something like that! And maybe you’re not at 18, necessarily going to write something as amazing as someone who is a classic writer, so sometimes it can put you off. But then I got back into it and I started to take myself a bit more seriously and started to submit stories to magazines and things like that and started to get bits and pieces published…

Me: What kinds of magazines published your work?

KL: So there are lots of Scottish ones, one called ‘Gutter’, ‘From Glasgow to Saturn’ was the university magazine, things like that… Most of them didn’t pay! I think the first time I ever got paid for a piece of writing was £5, I was very pleased five whole shiny pounds. So I certainly didn’t start out at pro rates or anything like that, but I did bits and pieces of that. I started to do performances and things, I was so terrible. See, looking back now, I just would stand with my piece of paper, and I had my head down and my hands would be shaking and I’d be so nervous – I wouldn’t look up once. Even if I told a funny bit, I would maybe look up to see if anyone laughed but I just didn’t really dare.

Me: And I’m sure they did!

KL: Well sometimes… Sometimes they didn’t because I was so nervous that I would keep going. And it really just built up from there, for about the past ten years almost I’ve been waitressing, did admin, worked in a call centre – didn’t last very long. I sold PPI!

Me: So, all those phone calls, they were you Kirsty!

KL: Yea, sorry. I was really terrible at that job, because I knew even at the time that PPI was shit! So if people sort of havered I’d be like “no! You just think about it! You don’t have to commit right now!” So my sales figures were atrocious, like so bad! I didn’t last very long in that job. I was a book seller for year, which I loved. That was my favourite job that I’ve ever had. It was so good, I did it all through school and Uni worked on Sundays in a book shop.

Me: Where was that?

KL: It was the Ottakars in Buchanan Galleries, it’s now H&M. That was wonderful, I really loved that job. I’d go back and be a book seller now if it didn’t have such ridiculous pay. It’s hard to make a living, but it’s a good job. See, I just did that, and I am now, as of the past couple of months, a full-time writer! But it’s taken me about eight maybe ten years to get to that point. I’ve always had other jobs to kind of keep me going journalism – I was the literary editor in ‘the List’, just whatever was going. But now this is my actual full-time job!

Photo credit: Claire Quigley

Me: How much of your spare time were you devoting to writing during that time?

KL: Most of it! But the thing is as well, you know reading is part of learning how to be a writer. But, you can’t get too hung up on the reading. You can’t just read all the time and feel like you’re learning, because at some point you will have to put the words on the page, the book can’t just be written in your head. You need to actually write the words down. But it is, it’s working as well. Even now, I spend a lot of time reading. You’re looking at structure. You’re looking at language. You’re thinking how has this author achieved this? How can I achieve it in my work? So it is work, but it’s kind of hard to quantify.

I also genuinely believe that daydreaming is a really important part of the writing process. A thing that I always have to do is usually a bus, I get on a bus put some music on just daydream, about 45 minutes is the perfect journey length because you don’t get bored but it’s long enough that you can get stuck into your thoughts. It really is important and it looks like you’re not doing anything but you know the cogs are turning. It’s really important every time I’m stuck on a story, or I’ve written myself into a corner, and I think I don’t know how to get out of this! Get on a bus, bit of music, daydream away; don’t even think about the specific issue just let your mind wander. Always by the time I get there I’ve got the solution.

So it’s hard to quantify because so much writing looks like nothing and maybe at the time it feels like nothing. One of my favourite habits when I was younger – I was so nerdy – was taking notes on books. How sad is that?

Me: No it’s sweet!

KL: I would have my little book of Ancient Roman History for kids and be like noting bits down. That makes so much sense to me now, because that’s where I get my ideas from. It’s just weird little footnotes and things, or comments someone said that I’ve noted down. And it might feel like nothing, you might write an idea down and not come back to it for five years. But, five years later you read it and go yes, that’s the thing! That’s the missing piece of what I’ve been working on! It is tough because on the one hand you’re always writing, but on the other hand you’re living as well and I do feel your art and your life have to feed into one another. You can’t live your art, but you can’t just have your art be side-lined to your life as well. So, it all feeds into each other.

Me: And when you talk about going on the bus, I think that’s one of the things that I really like about your stories, there’s a strong sense of place.

Photo credit: Claire Quigley

Is there a particular place that you go to, is the bus going to somewhere special? Or is it just “got on the number 29!”

KL: The bus that I usually get is the 1 from the Southside of Glasgow, and it’s the bus that goes to the West End of Glasgow and it’s forty-five minutes to an hour – perfect! And it goes to the University library. So quite often I’ll convince myself that I need to return a book or get a book, but it’s just an excuse really to take the trip. So quite often I’ll do that, but if I can go to the sea. That’s always the place that I’ll go, because then you’ve got the journey, but you’ve also got the actual being at the sea which to me always brings me back to myself, and I find the sea a real source of inspiration, in terms of my writing, but in terms of life as well. I think it’s give you a sense of how tiny we all are, but how connected we all are too, so if I only have time for a short trip I’ll tell myself I have to go to the library. But, if I can take a day I will go to the sea and then I’m always absolutely brimming with ideas. If I can have a day just by myself walking along the beach. It doesn’t have to be a fancy beach. Lots of beaches in Scotland are just stones and yeah they’re beautiful but they’re not tropical, but I love it. Even when it’s not sunny, it’s really moody weather, and the clouds meet the horizon, it’s beautiful I love it so much. Yeah definitely if I can go to the sea, I’ll go to the sea.

Me: So we’ve talked about your journey,

what would your advice be for any of our readers that are thinking about writing to get them noticed?

KL: get your work out there! Submit it to magazines, websites, perform your work if you can. I think the most important thing is to always be polite and professional, it’s really, really important. On everything, your social media is really important as well. Twitter – people will look at your twitter so you can show your personality but be aware that anything that you present is then your public persona so think before you tweet. Make sure that whatever you’re saying you’re happy with it coming back to haunt you in the future. And sometimes you might say something silly when you’re drunk, and you don’t mind it coming back to you, because it genuinely is you. But just make that choice early on with what you’re happy revealing and what you’re not happy revealing.

Always chase things up, I don’t think enough people do that so if you happen to be doing a reading and some editor of some magazine or someone happens to say to you oh my friend is an agent, chase that up. You don’t have to be pushy just politely send them an email, say “hi we met at this thing you happened to mention this, is it still ok to put us in touch”. Just always chase it up, you might think, “oh they’re too important they don’t want to hear from me”, but if they’ve already said they want to hear from you, do it! It’s just really important to chase stuff up; actually that’s how I got my agent. I won a contest and I got to go down to London and meet an editor, an agent and a writer and I didn’t have a book at that point. I hadn’t written a book at that point, but I really liked the agent: I felt like I really clicked with her. So I followed it up and said it was really nice to meet you, hopefully I can send you an email in the future when I have a book and she said yes absolutely do, and I did, and now she’s my agent. But you have to always follow it up, because if I had waited too long, she might have forgotten. Again, be polite, be professional, but just do it right away just so you’re always visible and keep on people’s radars. Agents and publishers and editors need writers, and they need writers who can produce the work, but who they are going to want to work with. So people who are interesting, friendly, and understand the way the industry works. So again on your social media if you can show that you are that person, then they’re going to want to work with you.

Me: I wanted to ask you,

what inspires you to write. The sea we’ve talked about, but what inspires you?

KL: Hmmmm

Me: Maybe we’ll come back to that. Can I just ask you what was the contest?

KL: it was through a website called ‘Ideas Tap’ which I’d really recommend that everyone joins. It’s a charity that aims to help young people start careers in the arts so not just writing, everything – film-making, graffiti art, absolutely any creative pursuit. They’ve got articles, they’ve got interviews, salons, workshops, everything. It is based in London, but obviously a lot of stuff’s online so you can read all that stuff. It’s a fantastic website:

www.IdeasTap.com

So what inspires me? Honestly everything. I think the hardest question in the world is where do you get your ideas form cos literally everywhere. I mean absolutely everywhere. Little strange things that people say, or actually I have a novel actually that’s coming out next year and I can pinpoint the exact moment that I got the idea for that novel. I was out on a boat with my uncle and my cousins: like a little inflatable boat – a dingy kind of thing. I was out on that and I saw a buoy with a light and it had a little cage over it – I guess to protect it, and I thought to myself “oh that looks like a birdcage” and then I though well why would there be a birdcage at sea? And then just on this boat on the sea started daydreaming and I got this idea for almost like a graveyard but instead of grave markers people were marked with birds in cages and that would mark your mourning period. When the bird died, that was the end of your mourning period, and a whole novel came from that! So you can’t always pinpoint the exact place where you got an idea, but there you go: I got my idea from a buoy with a light on it.

Me: And with your ideas:

is it always clear where you’re going, or do the ideas take you there, do you have a clear plan?

KL: You know I never really know, again just daydreaming. I tend not to start writing something until I’ve got the world of it clear in my head. So I’ll know the sort of tone of the story, I’ll know some of maybe the textures, the smells, what type of people live there. I won’t necessarily know the plot yet, but I’ll know the feel of it so I guess it’s quite cinematic for me, I really have to picture the whole thing before I can write it. But usually I haven’t got a clue exactly where it’s going, but I’ll usually have the kind of set up in mind. This is the world. This is the character. This is their situation. I won’t really know where it’s going and actually to be honest I get stuck at about 80% because I think I don’t know what I’ve done here and then eventually it comes together. I think the problem is once you’ve got to 80% you’ve kind of set up the ending, but you’re quite restricted because when you start a story you’ve got the entire universe of possibilities available to you. But the further you go into the story the more you’re narrowing down what can plausibly happen. So it’s quite easy to get stuck near the end cos you think “oh I’ve written myself into just these limited possibilities”. It’s just the way it is. You have to just find a way to wrap it up so you never really know; you figure it out as you go along.

Me: I like that idea of stories taking you on a journey…

KL: You have to trust. Every story is difficult. It never gets easier. I don’t think any writer ever sits down and thinks I know exactly what I’m doing, and this will be completely effortless because like you say every story is a new journey and you learn something new each time and there comes a point where you just have to trust. So every single time I sit down to write something I think,

“what am I thinking? I can’t do this!”

I just finished a book and I need to start thinking about the next one and I’m looking at it going how did I write 90,000 words? I don’t know how that happened. I can’t do that again. It’s terrifying but you just have to trust that you can do it. It will take a while. It won’t necessarily be easy but just trust that you can! I guess any new writer, anyone starting out, you need to be realistic and accept that it won’t be easy and the writing itself isn’t easy. Getting an agent isn’t easy. Getting a publisher isn’t easy. Promoting your book when it’s published isn’t easy. None of it is easy. But, trust that you can do it and it’s worth it if you really love it. If you love writing then it’ll be worth it!

You have to focus on the process as well, because it’s always going to come back to that. I think if anyone wants to write because they like this idea of this ‘writer lifestyle’ I’ll tell you, that’s a bit of a myth it’s not really true because it always comes back to the book. Even if you write this total bestseller, incredible, famous, popular book at some point you’re going to have to write another one. If you hated the process of writing the first one you’re not going to enjoy writing the second one either. So I would say the only criteria is that you on some level enjoy writing. You don’t have to necessarily enjoy every second of the process.

Me: and I imagine you don’t?

KL: No some days genuinely I have to put the TV in the cupboard and I have to switch the wifi off at the plug to really just force myself to work. So I don’t love it every second of it. But I would hate more not doing it.

Me: and I think that’s what everyone looks for in a job.

KL: Exactly

RentalHeart_KirstyLogan

Me: So we’ve talked a lot about you being a writer. I had some more specific questions on the book? Because I absolutely loved it!

KL: Thank you so much!

Me: What was your favourite story?

Or is that like asking for a favourite child? Mine was the first story, the Rental Heart, what was yours?

KL: Gosh that’s so hard. I think actually the one that I feel the strongest about is one called Seal Father and that was part of a group of three that were in a book that I wrote for a thing on Radio 4. It was about Scottish women writers and it’s again place specific so I wrote all mine inspired by the beach at Coleen Castle which is the beach where we, me and my mum and my brother scattered my dad’s ashes there because I went there a lot when I was child and also to see out to Bute where he was born. So that one means a lot to me. I wrote it about a year after my dad had died, so I had enough distance from it that I could write about it. Because I don’t believe you can write about something for about the first six months of it happening because it’s so raw that you haven’t got that distance . So I had enough distance that I could write about it, but the emotions were still very immediate to me. So it’s quite a quiet story, but it means a lot to me. But I mean I’m fond of all of them.

I’m glad you liked the Rental Heart. That one’s so important to me. I keep thinking actually I wrote that after – I’m a very literal person sometimes – and I had been seeing this girl, and I was more into her than she was into me, as happens sometimes. She ditched me, and it hurt, it hurt so much in my heart and I remember thinking I wish I could return this heart and get a different one and that’s where the story came from. It’s so literal! It seems like quite a fantastical story, but quite a lot of the stories come from me just thinking I feel this, and I wish I could literally do it. So I’m quite grateful to her now, cos she kind of launched this whole book. Sometimes it’s good to get dumped you know?

Me: Sometimes…

KL: If you can use it!

Me: And what was your overall vision for the book? How did you go about putting those stories together?

KL: Well actually I had never written this stories with a collection in mind. I wrote them all piecemeal over about five years. I don’t know, I just wrote them because I had the ideas. All you’re ever told is that it’s impossible to get a short-story collection published. So I hadn’t even got it, but then I saw this contest and I though “oh I’ve got loads of short stories”. I had probably about eighty at this point, so I thought I’m sure some of them could fit together. And then I really liked the Rental Heart, it had a special place with me. So I thought ok, that can be my title story. Then I thought I’m going to try and find all of my stories that are in some way fairy-tale tone, not necessarily retellings, because hardly any of my stories are actual retellings, but just that feel to them. And quite often I realised again because I wrote the stories piecemeal I hadn’t intended to explore a theme but I realised I wrote about substitutes. Love substitutes. So things like the coin-operated boys, or the woman who loses a child and becomes obsessed with her garden. Quite often emotions are so big and so close that you can’t really focus on them, so you make this substitute. And I think in life you quite often do that. And again I hadn’t intended to write this theme but I guess it’s just something I was obsessed with. And I realised oh yes a lot of these stories are about very similar themes as well, so I just put them together posted them off to the contest – never thinking that I would ever win. Got back to work on another book and forgot all about it, and then that’s how it happened yeah so I didn’t really intend it. The book that I’m writing now, which will be my third book, is a short-story collection again called the ‘Portable Shelter’.

Me: That’s a great title!

KL: Thanks! Funny story about that title, but yeah that will probably be out next August. But that’s again a more intentional collection. I’m writing these stories for the collection. I think it’ll be different they’re written with sort of a frame story. As a kid did you ever love the horror stories that are like kids sitting round a campfire or they’re having a sleepover – so they’re sort of framed?

It’s going to be this lesbian couple who are expected a child and it’s the tales that they’re telling to the child in the womb. But, they’ve each agreed not to tell the child stories, to only ever tell the child the truth, so they have to do it without the other one realising so the one that’s carrying the child does it whilst her partner is at work, and the one that’s not carrying the child does it whilst her partner is asleep. They’re each telling the child these stories without the other knowing and of course at the end they come to an understanding and realise that all stories are truth: there’s not truth and stories as two separate things. But that makes it sound quite sweet, but if you’ve read the Rental Heart I try for sweet but I don’t always land it. They get quite dark.

Me: Some have a sweet edge!

KL: I mean I’m hoping overall the book will be sweet, but there will be some dark places that they go to before that. But funnily enough…

Me: I’m very excited now

KL: Thank you! The title, so funny the way these things happen. Ages ago now, and I still don’t know if this was spam or not, I got a random email from someone I didn’t know. That said something like hey I thought you might like this and because I’m an idiot…

Me: You didn’t click?

KL: No I didn’t click, I copy pasted, I was like what could it be? Silly don’t do this! However, it turned out that it was, but they had specifically mentioned something about me so I thought they do know me, even though… Anyway…

Me: It’s getting creepier

KL: It was a list of such a strange thing, a really old website with a list of definitions of circus words. So a definition of like tiger, acrobat, clown and there was the definition of tent which was portable shelter and I really liked that phrase. A lot of the phrases, I don’t know if it was that someone had written the website and English wasn’t their first language so a lot of the definitions were really oddly phrased, but in a beautiful way. So, I just loved that phrase a portable shelter. It stayed in my mind and when I came to write the book. So there you go, get ideas from buoys, being dumped and from random websites. You can’t plan for this stuff. You just have to always keep your eyes open.

Me: We touched a little bit on the darkness of the book.

There were two stories in particular that were particularly sinister ‘Momma Grows a Diamond’ and ‘the Broken West’ would you talk to me about where they fitted in and why you chose them.

KL: ‘Momma Grows a Diamond’ is a really horrible story, and now when I read it over I think I cannot believe that I wrote that it’s such a dark and awful story. I know exactly, again sometimes you do know exactly where a story comes from, and I do know exactly where that story came from. I really love books of kind of random historical facts. They’re so good for ideas, and it was a book about American history, but the kind of underbelly of American history. None of the pieces were much longer than 500 words and it was talking about Storyville, which was this area of New Orleans, and there were a lot of bootleggers and prostitutes and things like that. And there was a quote from a child prostitute who was called Violet and the quote was, let me try and get it exactly right,

if my father owned a store I would help him by working in the store. But my father doesn’t own a store

Her mother was a prostitute and so the way she saw it, it was just the same as if she was helping, being a kid and helping. And that just stayed with me so much. I was just fascinated by it, the kind of inevitability and the fact she was doing this from love. And I thought, I was trying to get inside the mother’s head as well. She would be doing it out of love as well, she’s trying to help her child, she’s trying to make her strong, make her hard, make her able to make her way in the world, and that’s where that story came from I guess. Exploring the way the things we do for love don’t necessarily make sense on the surface. But even if we follow our best intentions doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be all sweetness and light and love just isn’t simple.

I think it’s a similar thing in the Broken West: I was just trying to explore this idea that love is complicated and you can love someone so much that it actually leads you to do really dark things. You never mean to hurt anyone but just I think love can take you to darker places than hate can. Actually funnily enough, I don’t know if any has spotted this, I probably shouldn’t admit it but I had been watching a lot of the TV show Supernatural and the set up of that show is these two brothers follow this journal left by their father around America chasing down all these kind of demons and monsters and things. And I only realised this after when I thought, oh my god that show has really had an effect on me. I obviously had used that basic idea but then taken it in an idea that certainly was suggested by the TV show.

I mean your influences can just be so, so wide-ranging. I am really influenced by TV. I really love the show the X-files as well and I’ve never really written about that, about aliens or really any of the specific ideas that are in the X files, but I love the tone of it and I feel like that’s the tone that I try and get across that kind of dark mysterious feel.

Me: I think you succeed.

KL: I certainly have no snobbery in terms of high art low art it’s all for the taking any inspiration is good inspiration.

Photo credit to Chris Scott

Photo credit to Chris Scott

Me: So a lot of your stories relate to queer characters, what has your experience been writing about queer characters and queer stories?

KL: I wish I could tell you something juicy or shocking, but I’ve had nothing but good feedback. I’ve had people at readings who have commented on the fact that the queer sexuality is presented without comment and asked why have I made that decision? And honestly, it never was a decision. I just have always considered queer sexuality to be not necessarily needing comment, unless you want to comment on it. I got very bored when I was a teenager of reading coming out stories, because I didn’t have a particularly dramatic coming out. I mean when I came out to my dad I must have been about 15 I think, and I said to him

“Dad, I need to tell you something but I don’t really want to discuss it, I just want to tell you it and I said I’m bisexual. And my friend that you thinks my friend is actually my girlfriend.”

And he sort of took a moment and went, “what would you like for dinner?” And I was like yeah and then that was that really. That was the end of it. Yeah my mum as well is brilliant, she loves my now fianceé so much.

Me: that’s exciting

KL: I know! It’s all been great! So really maybe there are people out there who hate the book because it’s got queer sexuality in it, but if they exist I don’t know about them. Maybe they just haven’t found the book yet. It’s all been good, it was not a conscious decision I made, it’s just that’s how I see the world. I think particularly the Broken West I would hope that people wouldn’t think that’s what healthy queer sexuality is, that’s distinctly unhealthy sexuality. But some of the others there’s unhealthy heterosexuality, there’s healthy queer sexuality… Hopefully it’s just the whole spectrum of all different sexualities from healthy to unhealthy, from hetero to homo, just everything. Just cos that’s how I see the world: I don’t think it’s as simple as one or the other. And I think it’s false to portray every lesbian as happy, but then it’s false to portray every lesbian as unhappy as well, there’s a little bit of everything.

Me: Ok, so you’re now a published writer which is fab.

What do you think have been the best bit of being a published writer and what have been your biggest challenges?

KL: The best bits are definitely readers. I’m still completely blown away when someone’s read my book, that it’s not my aunty or my friend cos I just think oh my gosh how? Why? You paid ten pounds for this book? Oh my goodness! And I’m just so honoured, I don’t understand why an author would not be just so blown away that someone has taken the time to read their book. I mean with the demands on people’s attention with TV, games, the internet, going out, their own work, their own lives, it’s incredible! The fact that someone will spend their money and time on something that you’ve just made up is incredible, and I’m so honoured and flattered and just grateful that anybody would do that, that’s been amazing. There was this girl who did, I think she’s about 20, and she did a little YouTube video review of the book, and she loved it. I was nearly crying when I saw the video. She was like “I’m so glad that this book has been published” and she was so sweet and I remember that. I remember being 20 and just reading a book and thinking oh my god this book knows me, this book is speaking of my life, and I just never thought that I would give that experience to someone. It’s been amazing, I’m just completely blown away. I think it’s incredible that anyone would read something that I just made up basically!

Me: That’s a very good answer

KL: The challenge I think is…I guess I get asked quite a lot cos I teach and I mentor as well and a lot of the time people ask, “when will I have confidence when will I know that I’m a writer and I can handle it?” And you never get there! Every time I sit down to write something I think,

what the fuck are you doing? Who are you? What are you doing? You’re just making shit up, and you think someone’s going to buy it!

And that’s hard. I don’t know if anyone ever gets past that, and the more I think about it, the more I’ve been going through this process, the more I think that’s a good thing, because I really don’t want to be someone who every time they sit down to work they think I’m a genius and everything I write is amazing! It’s good to have self-doubt. It’s bad if that self-doubt completely cripples you and you can’t do your work, but you need to always be pushing yourself slightly past your abilities. So I suppose that’s what I’ve struggled with: you always need to be slightly uncomfortable. Which is uncomfortable and the human drive is to be comfortable, to be easy, and warm, and well-fed and unchallenged. That’s our instinct I think, but in order to create something you have to be just pushing yourself past what you’re comfortable doing. So I guess that’s the challenge, but it’s a good challenge.

Me: and it’s the final question,

what are you reading at the moment? What literature inspires you?

KL: I just read this graphic novel called ‘Through the Woods’ by Emily Carroll which was amazing. It’s so nasty, and beautiful, and horrible, and amazing – it’s just so good! And it’s kind of a collection of short stories, about five short stories, but in graphic novel form. And they are dark, but they’re amazing, just so inspirational and beautiful. I also love quite a wide range of things. I love this writer called Christa Faust who has written a series of books that are kind of noir thrillers they’re from the perspective of a sex worker, and she was a sex worker, so it’s just fascinating. But the woman is very tough and is like the typical noir detective she’s you know, she’s got a dark side, but she’s very strong as well. And it’s just the way their written is so brash, and bold, and amazing. I love them. It’s such a contrast to what I usually write, but I think it’s good to do that. And I’ve also been reading a Canadian, I don’t just read women, mostly women – I’ve been reading a male Canadian author called Craig Davidson. His fourth book has just come up it’s called the ‘Cataract City’ and it’s just beautiful, like so gorgeously described. And it’s all about boyhood, and how boys relate to their father, and it’s set in the Niagara Falls and it’s all about feeling so trapped. Have you been to the Niagra Falls? The Falls are so beautiful but the town is so shitty.

Me: No I’ve always wanted to go since I did a secondary school geography project.

KL: Oh you should! I mean the falls are amazing, but the town… I mean it’s like a post apocalyptic Blackpool. It’s so kind of run-down.

Me: That’s a beautiful description.

KL: But that’s exactly what it’s like! It’s completely run-down, it’s tacky, everything is like on the main street there’s like a wax works museum, a burger bar. It’s just so strange because you’ve got this incredible beauty, but then this really dingy odd town. It’s really a strange place. It’s got all these kind of run down motels and everything. It’s incredible. Definitely go, but it’s such a strange place. It’s almost fable like, because it’s such a surreal town. It’s weird.

What else have I been reading? Oh and I just read Emma Jane Unsworth has a book called the ‘Animals’. It’s really good, again it’s realism. I don’t read a lot of realism, but I’m going through a little phase of realism and it’s about a girl, a woman not a girl, in her early thirties kind of growing up and what does it mean you chose between the raucous drunken life of you twenties and this kind of more grown up life of your thirties. And do you have a baby? Do you get an Aga? I mean what do you do? But it’s done with such beauty and humour it’s so good. And I’ve also been reading mass amounts of Scottish and Scandinavian folk tales for ‘the Portable Shelter’ as part of my research so yeah! I think that’s it! I read a lot, but I think that’s my highlights.

Me: That’s a lot of inspiration! Well, thank you so much Kirsty, it’s been amazing to chat with you today!

KL: Thank you!

 

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