When and why did you first start writing?
I was always writing, I think. I would make books as a child. I read a lot, so I suppose I wanted to create something as nice as the books I read. The obvious way to do this was to write a story, draw a cover etc. I think at some point I realised this wouldn’t be an acceptable line of work or way to live your life, so it became a secret. It might still be, considering my limited publishing success!
What do you enjoy writing, and what do you find yourself writing about most often?
My writing it fully centred on the overlap between: the monster in the basement, grief and death, masculinity, and the power of folklore/mythology. Usually the writing style wanders a kind of pulp-lit/magical realism path through that David Mitchell, Ben Marcus, Margret Atwood, Murakami area of literature where the monster in your basement is a metaphor for your unconfronted sense of loss, but also is a monster in your basement. As for what I enjoy about it? The therapy, apparently.
Where do you write? Do you have a writing space or a particular process/routine?
When we moved house one of the main things we wanted was a studio space for my partner, and a library/study for me. The idea was that with us being able to close these rooms off between working on projects, or locking ourselves away when we wanted to really get something done. It worked for a while, but still, I seem to wander about and find myself writing all over the house, rather than just in that designated space. I suppose it says that we don’t really know how we’re going to act given a new situation.
If you were a book character, which character would you be and why?
Hard to say, but if I could choose anyone to write me it would be Anne Carson, because then I could read it and understand myself. Egil Skallagrimsson seemed to have a really excellent time in the Icelandic Sagas. So maybe him.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in the name of writing?
I don’t know if this is a single thing, but I tend to pick at people’s emotional scabs to find out what that is like. I’m quite likely to ask you what it’s like to have your finger cut off, and what you thought about as it happened. While we wait for the ambulance of course. While this isn’t particularly weird for writers, it does put me in some odd social situations. It’s probably just rude.
Tell me about your poetry newsletter, Etch To Their Own.
I will send you poetry, on a Friday – and talk about it a little before wandering off to something else. Usually I’ll pick up a bit of writing that has made the rounds of writing twitter and discuss it, sometimes giving it a literary historical context, doing a bit of literary theory on it, or connecting one aspect of it to another piece of literature. Other times I will get a review copy of something or a submission, and I’ll take it from there.
On good weeks, it can be very good, on bad weeks, you’re at least going to see some really great poetry and writing from writers that you might not be entirely aware of.
I started the newsletter as a way to retrain myself to start thinking again. It becomes easy at some points in your life to relax into what you already know, and you can find yourself getting a bit “dull”. Especially if you don’t spend much time with people who read like you do! So this was a way for me to get back to writing about what I read again. We’re a tiny little community at the moment, but single reader is wonderful – and you wouldn’t believe how nice the missives I get back are!
Does your writing ever intertwine with other mediums, such as art? For example, do you ever create mixed media pieces incorporating artwork and poetry? What is the relationship between words and art like for you?
I don’t directly create mixed media art/poetry, but I have written about it over here. Art does often inform my writing though, it’s great for plucking out feeling, faces, places and even whole stories.
What do you find the most difficult or challenging about writing?
Editing. I’m always good for a first draft, but fixing things can feel like a real strain. It’s really upsetting to get to a bit of your own story that’s boring and you realise you might have to chop a big old lump out. You can still see how it is important to what you’re trying to say overall – but you’re having to weigh that against the fact that you can barely finish reading it. That’s the pain of editing for me.
What are your writing plans, goals or dreams for the future?
I’d like to get one of these novels I keep writing out in to the world!
If you’d like to sign up to Christopher’s poetry newsletter Etch To Their Own (which you totally should), but Friday has just passed – fear not! You’ll be sent the latest one when you sign up.
Would you like to take part in an interview for the Peeking Cat blog? Email firstname.lastname@example.org