Friday, August 7, 2020

Writers in Lockdown: A collection of short stories

Welcome to today's posting and author interview. Well, it's not exactly an author interview per se, but an editor interview has collected 28 stories from around the globe from a variety of authors called "Writers in Lockdown: A collection of short stories," edited by Faith Jones. What makes this special is that all stories were written during three months during the lockdown due to the pandemic. Don't worry, the stories aren't about COVID or the pandemic, but rather a variety of genres. The book is a lot of fun. One of the things I like about it is that I can pick and choose what order to read the stories and I don't have to read the book all at once. Take a look and read about Faith who put all of this together and how she came about it.

Writers in Lockdown: A collection of short stories 
by Faith Jones (Author & Editor), J. Drew Brumbaugh (Author), Jeffrey Caston  (Author), Adam Corres (Author), Kristyna Corres (Author), Carolyn Geduld (Author), Hakon Gunnarsson (Author), Perry Lake (Author), M. L. Roberts (Author), Dale Lehman (Author) 

This collection of 28 short stories is an international anthology written in the days of the virus when writers around the world were confined to their homes as part of the 'lockdown.' The stories are not about the virus itself but represent a broad range of genres and subjects, such as humour, drama, science fiction, thrillers, fantasy, supernatural horror, heroes, and mysteries of the paranormal. The authors who have contributed to this collection are: Saj Brodie, J. Drew Brumbaugh, Thor S. Carlsson, Jeffrey Caston, Kristyna Corres, Adam Corres, Julia Davenport, Carolyn Geduld, Hakon Gunnarsson, Jim Hamilton, Faith Jones, Ville V. Kokko, Perry Lake, Dale E. Lehman, Stephen Mills, Sherri Fulmer Moorer, Eileen Moynihan, L. Jay Mozdy, M.L. Roberts, Mike Sherer, Paul Sloop, Casey D. Sloop, Magnus Stanke, P.L. Tavormina, Leticia Toraci and Jenny Torniainen.

Faith Jones (Editor)

Writers in Lockdown - a collection of short stories

Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I'm not interesting enough to give you a sensible answer to this question, so let's just say I am standing on the shoulders of better writers. I feel an affinity with many of them, perhaps because we went to different schools together.

What inspired you to edit this book?

Lockdown has been a difficult time psychologically, a difficult adjustment for a lot of people to accept an autonymous routine but still maintain focus on their working standards when they've had to stare at the same four walls for three months or longer. There is one group of people in society who should be fully used to this goldfish style of working, who prefer to be alone in a quiet room with a keyboard all day (and get frustrated when they can't be), and that's the world's authors. I'm an editor and am used to doing my job from anywhere, so I took this project on predominantly as a community duty to show that writers across the fiction genres can still produce high-quality entertainment despite the background crisis. The second motivation was that I went through debilitating ordeal four years ago and was getting back toward a level setting in my mind with confidence when 'boom,' all the heightened tension came back with the COVID scare. I find that if I have a lot of work to do anyway and then add extra projects like this one that demands all my attention during waking hours and results in good mental health and productivity. In summary, editing this kept me sane.

Where did you get the inspiration for your book's cover?

I found a freelance artist and graphic designer who took my lousy cover instructions, ignored them politely, and produced something better. I would say the main difficulty when you have more than 20 authors is fitting their names on the front without encroaching too much on the defining image. It is a neat and unfussy cover, in my view, without imagery, which would suggest all 28 stories are from one subject or genre, which they aren't.

Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?

I was reading and reviewing over 100 novels a year up until I became too busy producing other people's publications, so I have probably forgotten most of my many influences. I could say Terry Pratchett, but literature and indies have left their mark on my style too. I have learned from writers to notice great lines or forms of description, which could be from books or from sitting behind and overhearing a chatty couple on the bus. For me, what a person says sets their character for the audience, which is perhaps why I very often fail to describe their appearance.

What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

I put out an open call on with a three-month deadline, and over thirty established and first-time authors got in touch. It was supposed to be one story per author, but then one family of writers sent three short stories and another submitted two, so a decision was taken that they would be accepted as individual works and not to choose the best from each group. This was an easier decision to make because they were high-quality pieces of writing.

One headache arose when a person on Goodreads demanded full legal contracts to cover detailed copyright and revenue questions, even though I had previously put these in writing in the public forum (all authors retain copyright to their own work and any profits go to a charity chosen by the authors), so I went to the trouble of drafting those documents for a couple of days only to find that the person who insisted on them didn't write anything and dropped out. There's always someone like this, with the self-importance factor ready to bash anyone down who tries to accomplish something new.

Then I had the impossible task of enforcing the original word count when several stories had exceeded it and couldn't be cut down too far without losing essential elements. In the end, I gave up, let through longer stories, and even revised my own past the original quota.

Apart from those things, it was easy to work with the dedicated, friendly bunch of authors who got involved, and the rest went swimmingly.

Tell your readers about your book.

Writers in Lockdown is an anthology of 28 fiction short stories, not about the coronavirus itself but representing a broad range of genres and subjects, all written when their authors were confined at home during the first three months of 'lockdown' (from late March to late June 2020). Fitting the something for everyone description, this collection should also be taken as a historical snapshot of creative minds across borders, still producing quality works of thought-provoking fiction during a time of global paralysis. When someone asks, "What did you do in lockdown?" well, authors around the world combined to make this. The genres include humour, drama, science fiction, thrillers, fantasy, supernatural horror, heroes, and mysteries of the paranormal.

Who is your target audience, and why?

I think the anthology should appeal to readers of any age group and English speaking origin. The broad appeal is probably a result of including such a diverse range of international authors, with varied life experiences.

What do you consider your greatest success in life?

Leaving a legacy, so future generations can look you up and see evidence that you lived. Another writer told me that it would be quite a thing if descendants read an ancestor's book, got into their distant relative's head, and found their jokes funny. It would be a kind of immortality.

What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?

My stories do not fit any genre. You can't say "this is like..." or "it's Neil Gaiman - on acid!" because I prefer to go my own way. If readers come around to liking it, that's a bonus. Obviously, I'm only one of the many writers who have contributed to the collection, so they'll all have their own unique answers!