June 14, 2014

Interview with James Hutchings, Author of THEY SAY THE SIRENS LEFT THE SEAS

>  *What would you be doing right now if you were not an author?

I would probably be trying to do something else creative. I've wanted to do something creative since I was a teenager. But I've tried several different things, such as music and filmmaking, before I finally settled on writing, and I've never felt like 'it has to be writing'. To be honest, ifIf it turned out that I was actually better at, say, painting, I think I'd be happy to change.

>  *5 years ago: what were you doing?

To be honest, I was probably arguing with someone on the internet.

>  *Do you have a certain writing ritual?

Not really. I've heard some writers say they can only write in a particular room, or only on an old typewriter or something, but I've never had anything like that. I do a lot of writing on bus or train trips.

>  *What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I got a rejection email for one of my poems which said that "There were several amusing parts in this poem, but it’s not consistently funny throughout, which is what I’d be looking for in a humour poem. I think the problem (as I see it) is that you’re often vague or allusive; specific details tend to be funniest." This would have been a lot more encouraging if the poem was meant to be funny.

>  *Is there an author you'd like to meet?

I want to say China Mieville, who's the only fantasy author that I read regularly. But I'm worried that he'd turn out to be awful. His blog certainly makes him seem like a much less pleasant person than his books do. If I'm allowed to pick a dead person, I'd say Douglas Adams, who always seemed like a very fun person to be around.

>  *Biggest writing pet peeve?

A lot of fantasy nowdays seems to be 'fantasy for people that hate fantasy'. For example it seems to me that Twilight would have almost exactly the same story if the Cullens were car thieves instead of vampires (in the movie he's even dressed as a sort of 50s hoodlum). So in that case maybe it's a sort of stand-in for the real thing - a story about going out with a car thief is too...confronting perhaps, or the problems with it too obvious. But perhaps having the 'car thief' be a vampire instead kind of puts the situation in 'soft focus', much like an 18th century pirate is a romantic figure whereas a Somali pirate from around now is just a thug with a machine gun. I'd say similar things about Buffy: a story about a high school girl going out with an older guy who has anger issues would be creepy, but it's romantic when he's a vampire (although I think the creators of Buffy are much more aware of what they're doing).

Likewise all those stories about court politics and/or romantic entanglements in an imaginary kingdom. If that's what you're interested in, why not read or write historical novels? I'm not asking rhetorically; I'd actually like to know why people who read the Game of Thrones series don't seem to want to read fiction about the kings of England.

>  * Do you read other's reviews of your books?

Absolutely. I read all of them (and link to them on my blog as well). I don't necessarily agree with them, but I do get discouraged by bad reviews.

 Fun Five:

>  Fav Color

I'm very interested in the idea of extra colors that don't exist in our world, but might somewhere else. This idea was in the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, among other places. I recently read about 'red-green' and 'blue-yellow', two colors that don't really exist, but which scientists Hewitt Crane and Thomas Piantanida claimed to make people 'see' in the 1980s. So I guess red-green and blue-yellow are my favorite colors.

>  Fictional Character you'd like to spend the day with?

To be honest it would probably be someone from pornography.

>  Fav food

At the moment it's probably the home-baked bread that we've been making. That, or a nutmeat stew that I make (I'm vegan).

>  Fav song and/or singer

Most of them would be from the 80s or earlier: The Violent Femmes, Nick Cave, The Cure, Paul Kelly, Simon & Garfunkel...

>  Guilty pleasure

I try not to be guilty about enjoying things.

The last dragon faces his death...

A magician bases his life on a misheard word...

A teenager goes looking for his friends' girlfriends, none of whom have ever been seen...

46 poems by James Hutchings.

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