Short Story Interview: Deborah Walker

Today I’m featuring an interview with Deborah Walker. Deborah publishes an insane amount of stories. It seems as though every time I log onto Twitter I see that she’s publishing a new story, a translation, or a reprint. She was also a participant in last year’s Art & Words Show (Submissions close tonight at midnight!). Here is her bio:

Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration or on her blog: stories have appeared in Nature’s Futures, Cosmos and Daily Science Fiction and The Year’s Best SF 18. Deb’s alter ego, Kelda Crich, has a story in the Bram Stoker nominated anthology After Death.

Q: Tell me about your short stories.

Sometimes they start life as a poem, so they can be a bit lyrical. A reviewer once said that I Got Rhythm: I liked that. They’re often about people (human or otherwise) discovering the previously unsuspected forces that shape their lives. Not so much problem solving, although occasionally my characters might get the urge to steal a jump gate.

Q: What is one of your favorite stories you have written and why?

It’s got to be ‘Aunty Merkel’. I shouldn’t really laugh at my own jokes, but it makes me smile to think of her, sitting in that church, being what she is.

Q: Are there stories you’ve published, perhaps earlier in your career, that you would change, if you could?

Nah! Je ne regrette rien. I’ve always written the best stories I could at the time. Getting published (forgive me) quite a bit has always spurred me on to write more stories.

Q: How do you write stories? Do you edit extensively? Do you write so much per day?

I edit extensively until the story is baked. And then when it’s done, it’s done. I aim for 20K finished words a month. I often don’t meet that target, but it gives me something to shoot for. I have a lot of time to write. Maybe six hours a day.

I have a bit of an unusual process.

Say, I want to write a story about umbrellas. Then I add another concept. Bones? Bone umbrellas sound interesting.

I then copy swathes of Wikipedia about umbrellas and bone into my working document.

As I write, I read the research, deleting it as I go.

The research leads me onto more ideas for the story.

I love, love, love Wikipedia. For instance, I don’t know much about umbrellas, but Wikipedia has got 5000 words on them.

Q: What themes and subjects do you find yourself drawn to? Why do you think you’re drawn to these subjects?

Umbrellas? No, I kid. Although I kinda want to write that Bone Umbrella story.

Stone circles and Venus figures recur. Free will crops up a lot. To know the future is to change it?  Or is it? I’ve no idea why I write what I write. And I don’t want to know.

Unreliable narrators are my favourite. Especially the well-meaning, but clueless type. Also, I quite like liars.

Q: What do you have coming out, and what can you tell us about these stories?

I have a story coming out in The Journal of Unlikely Acceptances. This was a call for very bad flash. Luckily it’s under my pen name Kelda Crich so no one will know it’s me. (I’m cunning as a fox.)

Q: What are your favorite short story magazines?

The last page of Nature. You can read Nature’s Futures stories here.

Q: Who are your favorite short story writers?

Philip K. Dick, D.H. Lawrence, H.P. Lovecraft, Ursula K. le Guin, Tanith Lee, Al Reynolds, Robert Silverberg, Liz Williams, Scott Wolven, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Eudora Welty.

Q: What are five of your favorite short stories (by other writers)?

Is ‘Call of Cthulhu’ a short? It’s kinda long. *checks Wikipedia* Yes, it is. (it’s actually around 12K words)

‘Controlled Burn’ by Scott Wolven
‘Clytie’ by Eudora Welty
‘The Days of Perky Pat’ by Philip K.Dick
‘Lesser Demons’ by Norman Partridge

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