ShatterColors Standard Interview -- Author Version: Barry
consists of 15 pre-set questions. Authors have published
at least one novel or short story/poetry collection.)
Why did you begin writing, and how long have you been
my first story, set in India where I've never been, in
the school magazine, over 50 years ago. Stumbled across
it a while back, was inevitably embarrassed by its mawkish
sentimentality, but it provided the germ of a plot that
I worked up and had printed in the Canadian magazine 'StoryTeller'.
What does your writing routine consist of?
long morning, punctuated by tea for body and soul and
a crossword for the mind. Shorter stint between afternoon
tea and dinner.
Have specific events ever flung you into an extended and
productive period of creativity?
What are common sources of inspiration?
and Literature - what else could there be?
What does a book need to do to get you to read it from
beginning to end?
good old-fashioned emphasis on characters and plot, with
no 'experimental' nonsense in its prose style.
Who are some of the authors you most admire?
need to do a Henry Miller here and write The Books in
My Life. Speaking of Miller, he remains (Anais Nin coming
second) the star erotograph. Of earlier English authors,
Samuel Johnson and Jane Austen stay supreme. Modern ones
include Anthony Powell, George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley
Amis, Simon Raven. Canadian favourites are Alice Munro,
Mordecai Richler, and Carol Shields. But, I could go on
and on and on....and that's leaving out the zillions of
mystery writers whom I addictively devour.
How familiar are you with the literary canon?
well enough up on the Greeks and Romans, and English literature.
Thanks to a good schooling, I can find my way around French
and Spanish literature, while Albanian is perhaps my most
What's your take on politics and literary endeavor?
question of 'Littérature Engagée' broke
out in the 1950s, thanks to Sartre, and percolated across
the channel to (above all) the English weekly magazine
'New Statesman' which everyone then read and argued over
whether its back pages (the arts section) should reflect
the front ones (committedly Socialist). The matter had
previously been well put by Orwell in his essay (based
on his meeting with Henry Miller) 'Inside the Whale'.
Probably a false dichotomy. Politics can and does generate
art, but as Cocteau said, a beautiful thing needn't have
What are your feelings about formal vs. free verse?
you want a bumper-sticker answer, Formal is Normal. Free
verse is for those who only imagine they are poets or
are too lazy to work at it. As that Brideshead Generation
chap Brian Howard (himself a dabbler) put it: "My
dear, all they are doing is work without effort, and we
know where that leads..."
Do you feel "flash" fiction (300 words or less)
is a viable form, or nothing more than a writing exercise?
useful exercise in non-word-wasting composition (I frequently
do it myself), but nothing more. Years ago, I saw a magazine
call for stories of "12 words or less" -- presumably
catering to reincarnated laconic Spartans.
When not writing, what do you do for amusement?
think this is of any interest to anyone else.
What's one of the most annoying things you can think of?
Dishonours shared evenly between: a) editors who never
respond to submissions - I assume they steam off the stamps
from SASEs and consign contents to Orwellian memory holes;
b) editors who refuse to accept submissions by e-mail
- most scriveners are impecunious and (if sensible enough
to keep the day job) short of writing time, hence it is
unconscionable to refuse to let them use the time and
money saving electronic method.
Briefly describe what you consider to be one of your standout
What are your upcoming projects/works in progress?
Various short stories, the usual regular magazine columns,
the inevitable reviews, plus keeping my post-retirement
classical hand in with this and that on Greek, Roman,
Byzantine, and 18th-Century stuff.
Care to conclude with a sweeping philosophical statement?
no patience with moanings over 'writer's block' - we never
seem to hear of (e.g.) 'sculptor's block', nor with people
who flood one's Inbox with twaddle about their wonderful
new computers and/or gripes over their latest rejection.
My never-to-be-delivered speech to any writers' 'workshop'
or 'retreat' reads: "Why aren't you at home writing?"
ShatterColors Standard Interview -- Author Version
© 2006 by Robert Scott Leyse
© 2006 by Barry Baldwin