Thursday, 17 June 2010

Interview: Nik Perring, Author of 'Not So Perfect'

Last week I reviewed 'Not So Perfect'. This week I have managed to catch up with the ultra-busy Nik Perring (he's just everywhere right now!) and interview him about writing.

Hello Nik, thanks for coming all the way over the Pond to my blog. Can I get you a tea or a coffee?

Hello, Jen! Thanks for inviting me. I like what you’ve done with the place. Tea please.

Have you always written or was there a day you just picked up a pen and went for it?

I’ve always written, just not always seriously. I used to write songs and bad incidental poetry, never really knowing what I was doing but having a bit of fun with it anyway. In 2002 (I think) I was made redundant and that gave me the opportunity to have a go at writing. And I did. I treated it seriously and spent a lot of time doing it and learning. I wrote a screenplay and sent it to the BBC who told me something along the lines of... we only pursue those we think will have a chance of ever writing anything good and promptly moved into writing features. I think my first piece was accepted the following year. Then, of course, I got interested in fiction...

When did you start writing short shorts or flash fiction? How did you discover it?

I started writing short stories right at the beginning. I think I’ve always tended towards them. Their structure seems to suit me and I understand it better than any other form. And I’ve always read short stories too, even before I was going to try to be a writer. The really important moment came when I discovered Aimee Bender, Etgar Keret and Sarah Salway, because after reading what they’d written I realised that I could write the sort of stuff I’d wanted to, with a chance of it being successful (of sorts!).

Do particular themes crop up in your writing in general?

Love, loss, relationships, being different, melancholic, darkly humorous - so people tell me! I don’t ever intend to incorporate any particular themes, they’re just kind of there!

My favourite story in the book was ‘Shark Boy’. The ending was just beautiful and heart-stopping all at once. Which is yours, and can you say why?

Thank you! I’m rather fond of Shark Boy too!

I don’t think I have a favourite – I’m very happy with all of them. I must say that I enjoy reading ‘In My Head I’m Venus’ though...

If you were to write a non-fiction book, what would it be about?

Ooh, good question! And, err, I don’t know! Mythology perhaps. Ghosts. Depression. Witchcraft. Curses. Conservation (for that, you can’t beat ‘The Ghost With Trembling Wings’ by Scott Weidensaul). I like those sorts of things. They’re interesting. Thing is, there are people far better suited to write those kinds of things who are much, much cleverer than me. I’d never say never though...!

Who are your favourite writers, of any genre?

Golly! Far too many to name them all. Here’s who comes to mind straight away:

Kurt Vonnegut, Aimee Bender, Etgar Keret, Mary Miller, Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Czyzniejewski, Michael Kimball, Sarah Salway, Arthur C. Clarke, Neil Gaiman, Alice Sebold, Caroline Smailes, Franz Kafka, A.C. Tillyer and Amy Hempel.

Thanks for popping round! Good luck with the book.

Thanks so much for having me! It’s been a pleasure. Next time – my place and I’ll provide the tea!

Nik Perring is a writer, and occasional teacher of writing, from the north west. His short stories have been published widely in places including SmokeLong Quarterly, 3 :AM and Word Riot. They’ve also been read at events and on radio, printed on fliers and used as part of a high school distance learning course in the US.

Nik’s debut collection of short stories, NOT SO PERFECT is published by Roast Books and is out now. Nik blogs here and his website’s here.

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