Karla Brading talks with Catherine Fisher about her new evocative, blood-fizzling release The Red Gloves And Other Stories, where two stepbrothers share one nightmare, red gloves reach for your throat, a stranger asks to swap lives with you… and who is the ghost in the rain?
Poet, children’s author and the first Young People’s Laureate for Wales, Catherine Fisher resides in Newport and is well known for her bestselling books – including the Snow-Walker and Oracle trilogies, and the Incarceron and Chronoptika series. It will come as no surprise that Fisher has won a number of awards for her works, and continues to produce exquisite quality writing for readers young and old.
There’s so much scope for this collection of short stories to flourish into lengthier tales. Has Catherine any plans to take aspects of these published works and expand or adapt them? Perhaps this is something she’s already done?
“I have no plans to develop any of these stories into novels,” she says, “although two of them are perhaps the seeds of novels already written. Sometimes an idea is too delicate or brief for a full-length novel, and a shorter treatment suits it better.”
How does writing her shorter, unsettling stories compare to her ambitious, award-winning novels? What does Catherine enjoy about the differences between the two?
“Novels are a long-haul project. They take months of work and often the plot and characters and direction of the story only emerge gradually as you work. With a short story, the idea is usually the spark and the actual writing is an hour or so. Then the story is reworked and the language is sharpened. It’s a briefer and more intense writing experience.”
Having written a story about a boy seeing something particularly ominous in a mirror, what would Fisher’s personal reaction have been, if presented with the same surreal phenomena?
“The Mirror is a story about a boy who sees a bird trapped in a mirror, or perhaps it’s the fear and panic of the bird that is trapped inside him,” she shares. “I like exploring the ambiguities of metaphors in a story. If it happened to me, I don’t think I would like it at all…”
What inspired you to go down the ‘eerie’ route with links to Wales; why not, for instance, write happy, flowery tales? (What makes Catherine Fisher wake up and say, today, I’m going to unsettle readers with my words…?)
“I’ve always written strange stories. I like to read ghost stories, weird fiction and fairytales. I like unusual worlds and magical happenings and so those are the stories I write. I don’t think it’s a conscious decision, it’s just instinctive.”
The nod to Welsh locations and its history is embedded and championed in your spooky creations. Will we see more collections in this vein?
“It would be great to write some new stories for a future collection, maybe on a different theme, or in different locations, though Wales is a place of infinite possibilities, so it’s always easy to set stories here.”
The Red Gloves… arrives on shelves just in time to tickle the fancy of anyone seeking spooky tales for the ever-wonderful autumn time of the year. Her future projects are top secret, but assures us she’s working on a new novel and poems. In the meantime, hunker down with The Red Gloves And Other Stories for a freaky treat. Mwhahahahaaa!
Wait, who said that…?
The Red Gloves And Other Stories is published by Firefly. Price: £12.99. Info: here
words KARLA BRADING
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