Wednesday, 28 August 2019

August's Interview - Ray Daley

August's Interview - Ray Daley

Q. Firstly I’d like to ask about your September Submissions Challenge. You’re going to be submitting a story a day for the entire month. Tell us more.

Crazy idea, right? I was talking to some writer friends on Twitter about how tough it might be to sub a story every day for a year. Then I ran a poll to see what people thought, on how difficult it'd be (71% thought it'd be hard, 29% thought it'd be easy). A few days after that apparently I went completely insane (or more insane than I already am) & just decided, WTF, let's try it for a month and see how hard it actually is.

Q. For the above challenge one needs to have 30 stories ready to sub. I see from your blog that you have that, and then some (to put it mildly). How many stories exactly do you have?

Stats? Okay. Just as a starter, I currently have 31 stories out in submission (as of 22nd Aug 2019). Answering this was tougher than I thought it'd be, as I have my stories filed by the year I wrote them & then sub-filed by flash or longer. Currently unsold & able to sub, from 2014-2018 I have 186 flash stories, and 294 longer stories. If you add those to the 43 stories I've written this year, I have an archive of 523 stories finished.

Q. Wow. That’s a lot. How long have you been writing for then? And what got you started? (Also, tell us about your ‘A Year of Living Bradbury’ book)

Ever? I started writing when I was about 9. Seriously, for actual money you can buy stuff with, since 2014. As for what got me started, my English teacher at Junior School was a guy who just let us write whatever the heck we felt like. I'd mostly rip off whatever Tom Baker Doctor Who episode I had most recently seen, with the twist of me being the lead character and I normally died at the end. I think they'd send modern kids to a therapist these days if you wrote that stuff.

Ah, The Year of Living Bradbury
. Ray (Bradbury) has always inspired me. As a kid, it was cool to see someone with the same name as me, back then it was quite an unusual name. I read a lot of his stuff growing up and when I started publishing my own short stories through Smashwords, I wanted to challenge myself a little. Well, a lot, really.

So I watched this interview with him where he talked about the challenge to write one story a week, every week for a year. He said, yeah, you'd probably write some garbage along the way, but you'd also write some decent, saleable material too. So I took him up on that challenge in 2014. I'd written 52 stories in about 6 months, but the whole point wasn't to JUST write 52 then stop. It was to do it every week, which I managed.

I learnt a lot about what kind of person, and writer I am. I found I was better with deadlines than I realised, and that I was more creative too.

Q. How often do you write and what inspires you to get going on a new story?

There's no normal for me. I once had an MRI on my brain and was actually disappointed to be told my results were "normal" - that should tell you a lot about the kind of person I am. I've had one of my least productive years so far during 2019. That's mostly down to having a couple of mental collapses where I lost all faith and wanted to burn my entire writing career to the ground. I ended up taking a hiatus until the love came back. It took a while.

As for what gets me going? It's got to be something which either demands to be written right now or a story which picks me up and pulls me along for the ride where I look up 2 hours later and say "What the fuck just happened there?"

Q. Do you have any favourite short story writers?

Sarah Pinsker comes high on my list, as does Merc Fenn Wolfmoor .

Q. Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick are two of the most famous short story writers in the sci-fi genre. How about picking out your top story from each of these authors?

Q. I read on one of your feeds that you’ve quite recently had a story accepted by a magazine. What was the story and which magazine was it?

That was Electric Athenaeum, the story is called The Parting. It's my first ever fantasy sale and means I have now sold in SF, horror and fantasy. I'm a triple threat now! I can also now announce my latest sale, a science fiction story to Escaped Ink, that'll be out later this year. Hopefully my longest on-going sale titled Tuck And Roll will also come out this year, a story I sold to the Automobilia Anthology way back in 2017. I do have one story in limbo with a market (who I currently can't name) and the hope is that will become a sale too.

Q. Which is better for you, to get a story in a magazine or to get one in an anthology?

Publication is publication. If people like my work enough, I'm not fussed how it appears. My initial success was with the anthology markets because I found the magazines and sites hard to break into as a new writer, probably because my grammar sucks a donkey. These days, I'm doing a little better with the magazines. Thanks go to Grammarly, I guess.

Q. To never give up and keep at it … How about giving us budding writers a short pep talk on how you do this. Any tips?

It's persistence. Always be getting stuff out, if you aren't submitting, you've no chance to be published. You are the master of your own destiny, so make it happen for yourself. Sure, you'll get a crap ton of rejections back, but those are part of the game. Publication isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. If you want to sell stories, settle in for the long haul.

I try to make my days have some writing element, if it's not creating a new story then I want to be looking for new markets, proofing and improving older stories or following up on stuff already out to submission. Mentally, I'm not equipped to write every day. I'd go crackers if I tried, so I do other stuff to be proactive about my writing. It's a life now.

Q. Do you have any plans for a novel or are you exclusively a short story writer?

No, I've written two novels. I won NaNoWriMo and Camp Nano with novels before now. The first was awful, just written to prove to myself that A) I could write 50k & B) I was capable of doing it within a deadline. I have pushed the second novel a few times through Twitter pitch events, it's been read, people didn't hate it, but they didn't want to buy it either. I describe it as Battle Royale meets Harry Potter. It's not total garbage and that's high praise from me for my own work.

Q. Okay, last question. With so many stories on file, are you not tempted to self-publish another anthology or two? And if not, how to avoid the temptation of just getting them all out there on kindle?

I've done it before and it tanked hard in terms of sales. I'd much rather sit on my work and sell it as matching calls pop up. Or go bonkers and sub 30 times in a month, because why the hell not.

Okay, thanks Ray, and good luck.
And for those reading this, why not take up the September challenge too?
Go to the link here for more information.
You can also find Ray’s blog here and connect with him on goodreads here.
Also, check out his ‘A Year of Living with Bradbury’ book here.

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