I’m delighted to feature an interview with Rebecca Lloyd, a short story writer and novelist based in Bristol, UK. Becca and I first “met” virtually way back in 2008 or 2009 when I was living in London and first began thinking that maybe I should take this writing thing seriously. She hosted the short story group of Writewords, an online writing community based in the UK, and it was in that forum where I first showed my work to another living person not related to me by blood or marriage. It was a very nerve-wracking endeavor, to post my little baby story up there in the cold, hard world of the faceless internet and wait for feedback. But Becca’s comments were always wonderfully supportive and insightful and I greatly valued her take on my work. Becca later asked that I include a story first shared on Writewords in an anthology that she and Indira Chandrasekhar, another Writewords contributor, were compiling. I agreed and that story, Signs of Our Redemption, was published in 2012 in Pangea: An Anthology of Stories from Around the Globe. Becca’s second story collection The View from Endless Street, has just been released in the UK by WiDo Publishing and is available in the US via Amazon. It is excellent and you can buy it here. You can also find Becca on Facebook.
1. So tell us a little about the stories in this collection.
There are 20 stories in total, with five being pure figments of my imagination. The other 15 all have an element of my own experience or my observation or my having read something that intrigued me and made me want to re-create it as a short story. All of them take place in the south of England, other than one called Don’t Drink the Water, which is set in Morocco. I was there a long time ago for a holiday for a couple of weeks. I remember the market place I describe in the story and the dark area at the back where the meat hung and I remember wanting to get away from there badly. But I also did a bit of internet research just to remind myself about Morocco, but the incident with the Muslim woman-hating man really did happen – I was that hated woman.
2. Do you write novels as well as story collections?
Yes, I wrote a children’s novel Halfling, which Walker Books published in 2011, and another completed novel Under The Exquisite Gaze which was shortlisted in the Dundee International Book Prize in 2010, but has never been published.
3. I find novel writing so much more forgiving than writing short stories. In a short story, there’s no place to hide. Which do you prefer writing, novels or short stories?
Short stories by far. I personally find that the majority of novels are altogether too long. I can rarely be bothered to read to the end of them, as awful as that is to say. I usually get around three quarters of the way through, and then I lose interest completely, or I’ve already made up my own ending.
4. I know that you’ve also taught creative writing. What was your experience like? Do you think that writing can be taught?
Salman Rushdie said awhile back something along the lines of: creative writing classes are worthless. I see his point, although I don’t think he chose his words very carefully. I think he meant that most of his students had no imagination and that is one thing you can’t teach. However you can teach the ‘tricks of the writing trade’ to would-be writers and it saves them having to work them out for themselves, which could take a great deal of time. Of course the other things you can’t teach are the self-discipline, self-belief and resilience that writers also need.
5. There are a lot of writing competitions out there and you’ve won a number of prestigious prizes. What are your thoughts on writing competitions in general?
To be honest, I don’t think they are necessarily very good for writers. I think they give a false sense of security in a very fragile world, although I can’t deny that it’s great to be acknowledged in a competition for the quality of your work. Of course, it’s also part of your biography as a writer and could well impress a publisher. But I do think some writers get a little obsessed with them. I mean after all, how many times do you really have to prove you’re a good writer?
6. Do you have another story collection planned?
I’ve got another collection out in the ether at the moment and I’ve called it Whelp and Other Stories. It was shortlisted in the Paul Bowles Short Fiction Award 2014, and it was a really enjoyable book to write. And otherwise, I’m working very slowly on a fourth collection, but this will be at the extreme end of my range, the very weirdest and darkest part of my writing.
Thank you Rebecca for sharing your thoughts with us!
You’re very welcome Tara, thank you for asking me to join you.
Rebecca Lloyd writes short stories and novels. Her stories are dark and strange and many of them have been published in literary magazines and anthologies. She won the Bristol Prize 2008 for her story The River and her short story collection Don’t Drink the Water was a semi-finalist in the Hudson Prize 2010 while her novel Under the Exquisite Gaze was shortlisted in the Dundee International Book Prize. Her children’s novel, Halfling, was published by Walker Books in 2011, she is co-editor, with Indira Chandrasekhar, of Pangea an Anthology of Stories from Around the Globe, published by Thames River Press in 2012, and developmental editor of The Female Ward by Debalina Haldar, published by Thames River Press in 2013. She has had two short story collections published in 2014, Mercy by Tartarus Press and The View From Endless Street by WiDo Publishing and a third as yet unpublished collection Whelp and Other Stories was a finalist in the Paul Bowles Short Fiction Award 2014.