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SB: A lot of your writing seems to be influenced by old folk legends, and fairy tales. Did you grow up reading those, and do you still read them? NG: Yeah. I’ve grown up reading them. I love them. That was the stuff I hunted down, the stuff I sought out. Anything like that I could lay my hands on. Myths and legends of the Norsemen. I always loved religion for the same reason. I loved the things people believed, the things that are sort of down there somewhere at the bottom. SB: Speaking of influences, what authors were your biggest influences? NG: Well, you’ve got the growing up ones and then you’ve got the ones in your teens. Growing up I’d say, C.S. Lewis, definitely. The first time I ever really noticed an author. I remember when I was seven, really loving the way he used brackets, he put comments in parenthesis. I went, “That’s such a cool thing to do. When I grow up if I’m a writer I’m going to put things in brackets like that. A lady named Richmont Crompton who wrote some English books called The William Books, whose prose style I loved and in whose style Terry Prachett and I wrote Good Omens. W.S. Gilbert was a huge influence growing up. I was very lucky that we had this big school library filled with these old dusty books, which obviously hadn’t been taken off the shelves for fifty years. SB: At what point did you decide that you were going to be a writer? Was it when you were young or did it come a little bit later? NG: Don’t recall any time when I didn’t want to be a writer or when I didn’t want to be a storyteller. The thing I missed was the idea that it actually would involve a lot of work. I think when I was young or growing up I figured the way it worked if you were a writer was that you write something like a poem

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or a short story and when it was finished somebody would drive up in a car and they’d say, “We understand you’ve written something.” And you’d say “Yes.” Then they would ask, “Can we see it?” and you’d let them read it and they say, “Oh, this is wonderful. Here is millions of pounds. Thank you for writing something good and adding to the sum total of beauty in the world.” But that never happened. What I do is I make up stories. I have the kind of mind that makes up stories and I like making up stories. I love daydreaming. I love wandering off into “I wonder what would happen if?” and “What if this goes on? Where does this go? Wouldn’t it be interesting if...? What kind of person would?” So you follow those kinds of things with your head. It’s scary for me these days if I do run into things that I wrote in my late teens and early twenties because they are so bad, so clumsily written. I was unable to pass my way through a sentence. I was very lucky, I think, in that I started out as a journalist, which forced me to write. Luckily people were paying me money to write and I had to turn in something. In order to survive, just to pay the rent I was writing five, ten thousand words a month. Doing interviews, articles, whatever. After a couple of years I began to edge into writing for a style and I remember the point in 1985 when I read a story that I had written called Looking For The Girl and it’s in Angels and Visitations, and it’s by no means the best story I’ve ever written, it wasn’t even the best I’d written to that point, but it was the first thing that I’d ever written that felt like me. I read it and thought, “Oh, I’m the only person who could have written this. This is a “me” story; it has my voice in it. I’m going somewhere with this.” ‘Cause one of the things I find very, very easy to do and I still do, as a writer, is that you have a lot of voices and tools at your disposal. It’s like being a gardener. You go down to the little

INTERVIEW

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Profile for Katya Cummins

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

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