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How did you first become interested in writing? I’ve always scribbled stuff since the age of 9. At primary school I wrote a story that one teacher liked. She asked me to write more, as part of a group project. One pupil did illustrations, another did a cover and bound the story. The teacher said it was so good she’d get it published, but then promptly disappeared. After we came back from holiday she was gone. From then on I was determined then to get ‘something published’.

What made you choose short stories instead of another form, like the novel?


lan Beard is a 57-yearold, Birminghambased author of short stories and flash fictions. His first collection ‘Taking Doreen out of the Sky’ was published in 1999, and his second collection ‘You don’t have to say’ was published just last year. A skilled wordsmith who was instrumental in establishing local publisher the Tindal Street Press, Beard now works as a librarian at Birmingham City University. Carl Sealeaf interviewed this remarkable writer and asked about his experiences during a career that has spanned over three decades.

I love short stories and have from college. I read stories in magazines and anthologies all the time and read collections. I read novels too, with nearly as much pleasure but find they’re sometimes too long, often I feel they could have been edited down. Nothing beats the rush of a great short story. Are short stories more challeng ing to write than longer pieces? I’ve not written a novel so can’t really say – I did attempt one in my twenties but it petered out. To me it’s probably more challenging to write a novel, but many (e.g. Hemingway) say that writing short pieces is much more difficult because every word counts, and there is no room to be discursive. In that way it is similar to poetry I suppose.

How long did it take before your work receive d serious notice? I started writing ‘properly’ (i.e. bought A4 page-a-day diaries – which I still use) when I left college in 1980 when I was 25. It took five years to get a story in a national magazine (London Magazine ), although I had some earlier pieces in regional magazines (West Midlands Arts Report; South West Review).

SL Magazine Issue 3  

As the dust begins to settle from the August riots, issue 3 of SL Magazine brings together the reactions of young people in Birmingham, and...