The most excellent gent and talented wordsmith Mr Chris Milam of the FlashDogs crew nominated me for the Liebster Award.
This isn’t, unfortunately, something that involves copious fizzy wine, extravagant cake, and overpriced statuettes (although should you be inclined to indulge then I shall most certainly be joining you). It is, however, an opportunity for me to learn more about you guys, and also share and over-share various snippets and cuttings from my life and personality that, quite frankly, I know you just can’t live without.
So, without further preamble, here’s the deal.
Share 11 random facts about me (note that it says ‘random’, not ‘fascinating’ – prepare for a rollercoaster ride, dudes).
Answer 11 questions provided by the inimitable Mr Milam.
Concoct 11 new questions for 3 people I get to nominate (no obligation for them to accept, though they may then miss out on a fine helping of digital champagne).
On board, people? Ready, small furry rodents? Chomping at the bit, psyched racing turtles? Then let’s embark on a rip-roaring treat through my slimy brain coils.
THE RANDOM FACTS
1. My favourite food is cheese. Pure cheese. The more plasticky, mild and tasteless the better. Some might say that this means I don’t really like cheese, but that just ain’t true. It’s brilliant. It’s like natural, internal moisturiser.
2. When I was a student I was the proud care-taker of Mr Rat (first name, Compy). He was a most excellent familiar, who enjoyed wine for the most part. The part he didn’t like was when he had a headache in the morning and kept falling over. We’ve all been there.
3. I used to be a county level badminton player. Now I’m not bad at drinking wine and smoking.
4. My other half proposed to me at the launch party for Alan Moore’s “Dodgem Logic” magazine. There was an appropriate amount of entertainment and nipple tasselage. (Excuse the name drop, but BLOODY HELL ALAN MOORE *ahem*). FYI I said yes.
5. I had the webbing under my tongue pierced for years, until I scratched it and had to take the ring out. I am currently considering options for the next piercing.
6. I used to go to my local library every workday lunchtime and read all their books about serial killers. I suspect they were monitoring me.
7. I was a terrible goth (something horrendous about ginger roots growing through a bad home-dye).
8. When I was younger my little brother used to collect bones. Various old family photos involve buckets of bleach with birds in, and dead (roadkill) badgers posing at the lounge windows.
9. I have never experienced déjà vu. Not being funny, but I think y’all just remembering shit.
10. I have a handicapped older brother. He is a diamond who I don’t visit enough. He is, in some ways, the most intelligent toddler I’ve ever met, wrapped up in a 30 something’s body. It means Of Mice and Men brings me to tears every time, and that it should be no surprise when I get pissed off by certain politicians and people. To summarise, there’s things and people in life that make you realise what’s important, and my brother is one of them.
11. I try not to take life too seriously. But I still swear a lot.
THE QUESTIONS FOR THE CONDEMNED (MR MILAM’S WORDS, NOT MINE)
1. What is your greatest strength and weakness as a writer? Explain.
Greatest strength: listening to the voices.
Greatest weakness: listening to the voices.
Because sometimes they help you along, and other times they’ll try to paralyse you. So when it comes down to it, whether they’re shouting in the back of your head or not, just write.
2. Describe yourself in 15 words or less. Your answer must be in the form of a three-line poem.
And don’t eat ham.
(Though partial to a sporadic sausage roll).
3. You can be anywhere in the world and you have one hour to yourself. Where are you and what are you doing?
I’ll wrap up warm and sit atop a floating glacier off the coast of Iceland. And I won’t do anything. I’ll just watch, and listen, and hear my body thump to it’s own beat while the wind rushes against my skin.
And then I’ll scream.
4. If your life was made into a movie, who would play you and what would the title of the film be?
On the off chance that this ever happens (yes, I know, how come this ain’t already in the cinemas, right?), I’m gonna go for Tilda Swinton. Firstly, she is excellent in We need to talk about Kevin. Secondly, she embodies a certain sort of cool that I can only ever aspire to, but if someone sees fit to make a film about me then hopefully I can pretend to be cooler. (You guys won’t tell anyone, will you?)
Oh, and it would be called something along the lines of; Two pig’s nostrils and a china cup of tea.
5. From a reader’s perspective, what do you look for in a piece of flash fiction. What makes the story sing?
It can be different things. I don’t expect a full story, there’s not a whole lot of words to play with, but I want to feel the story. I want to be wondering. I want to be crying. Hell, I don’t even mind a bit of laughing. But I don’t need to know all the details. A good flash fiction piece is one that sticks to your brain.
6. What is your favorite quote? Explain why.
I’m not much of a quote person. There’s too much Pinterest for that. That being said, if you’re proper keen to know, then Dr Seuss is full of a whole range of worderly gems, one of my personal favourites being:
I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.
7. What is your greatest accomplishment and your biggest regret?
Aw, man, this is a hard one. I mean, one day something seems good, another day it puts its bad hat on and vomits in your shoes. It’s the rocky seesaw of life. But in the interests of giving an answer – I’m gonna go with…
Greatest achievement: the first time I finished a novel. (Let’s not get into the details here of exactly how bad that first novel actually was.)
Biggest regret: Don’t tend to have one but if you insist then it involves spending too much time on people who don’t deserve it, and not enough on those who do.
8. Should writers of flash fiction/poetry be compensated or is the exposure of being published in a magazine its own form of payment? Explain.
Well this is a biggy, right? So big, I suspect it is deserving of its very own space in a post.
I’m guessing if you’re reading this then you’re probably a writer (of flash or novels or blogs or shopping lists) or perhaps you’re a photographer or artist or crazy creator of earwax sculptures. And I’m guessing, at some point, you’ve been asked to pour your heart and soul into something for free.
My feeling is that your work is worth something. Whether that’s money, or publication, or the feeling that you’ve helped a worthwhile cause, that’s a decision for you to make.
Personally, I’ve worked for free before – but in all of those instances I might not have received a cash prize, but I still got something out of it. My work had value.
And yes, there’s other issues around the difference between getting value for your work, and people taking the piss, but in essence, remember that your work is worth something, and that you can determine what you’ll accept as payment for it.
9. The apocalypse has arrived and you are forced into a bunker for an indefinite amount of time. You can bring only one of each: A book, movie, beverage and food. What do you choose?
Ok, so this is officially the BEST QUESTION EVER.
The Book: Accelerando by Charles Stross. But hey, don’t tell anyone, I’m also smuggling in Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales.
The Movie: The Virgin Suicides, with the DVD of Alien slipped inside the cover like a wayward porn magazine.
The Beverage: Red wine.
The Food: Cheese (see random fact #1).
10. Why do you write? Explain thoroughly.
Because I enjoy it. Because hopefully it makes me a better person. Because I can.
I don’t write because I have to. I don’t write because otherwise I would keel over and fall into an early grave, or lose myself in a blubbering, shivering mass of nervous tension. Although they are always possible outcomes, and perhaps writing does actually take the edge off.
I write because it’s something I love to do.
Also, for the most part, it’s a fantastically anti-social pastime, which is a heartening bonus.
11. What is your epitaph going to say when you punch the clock one final time?
Sorry about that. Especially the taxidermy gaff at my funeral.
AND NOW FOR THE LIEBSTERISH QUESTIONS
1. If you had to live in a fiction book, what book would it be and why?
2. Cat or dog?
3. When your muse is on holiday, what do you do to bring it back?
4. The Dinner Party question: you get to invite three people, dead or alive, from the entirety of human history, to your dinner party. Who would it be, and why?
5. What is your favourite short story or piece of flash fiction, and why?
6. What is your favourite film that’s been adapted from a book you’ve read?
7. If you were a superhero, what would your name and special power be (bonus points for including a costume)?
8. Who is your favourite unsung author?
9. What book or film has had you scared to the bones?
10. What is the best piece of writing/creative advice you’ve ever had?
11. You’re travelling. Where are you going to, and is it about the journey or about the destination?
SO WHO’S NEXT?
Phew, I did warn you that was gonna be a crazy trip, man. Or at least a trip. Or, shall we say, mildly pleasant stroll?
Either way, you’ve made it to the end. To complete the mission, I’ve tried to avoid renominating people who already have one, but my most notorious nominees are:
Emily June Street, the most excellent editor for the FlashDogs
Tom, who was lumbered with editing my stories for the FlashDogs anthology
Bart Van Goethem, who you’ll also find lurking in the FlashDogs pages