Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Not So Perfect... but almost!

Before I welcome Nik Perring, I want to thank all of you for your lovely messages of support about Cleo. The good news is that we took her from the amazing animal clinic to our local vet this morning. Her right eye is responding much better to light, which is great news, here's hoping she keeps on getting better. The vet is going to try and sort out her hip and we hope to have her home tomorrow. And no more trips to the pub for her!

I also just wanted to quickly mention that I didn't quit Facebook because of anything that happened on Facebook. This incident (on email) was just what finally persuaded me that I need to drastically cut down on distractions and public cyberlife for now, and today, Facebook-Free Day 1, I am certainly feeling calmer and more clearheaded!

Finally, I was very honoured that the wonderful Ethel Rohan asked to interview me for Dark Sky Magazine, and the interview is up there now, if you'd like to pop over - I reveal something most people don't know about me, and do a free-write, which was a lovely thing to be asked to do. Thank you, Ethel!

Now to today's most important business. It is always a sheer delight when a friend publishes a book. But it's even more of a joy when you have been there almost from the first drafts of many of the stories, seen them evolve, loved each of them singly, and now you seem them so beautifully presented in a miniature illustrated package! So it was - and is - with my good friend and writing colleague Nik Perring's Not So Perfect, published tomorrow by Roast Books.

A little about Nik: Nik Perring is a writer, and occasional teacher of writing, from the north west of England. His short stories have been published widely in places including SmokeLong Quarterly, 3 :AM and Word Riot He blogs here.

Nik asked me to endorse the collection of flash stories, which I was more than happy to do, and this is what I wrote:
These short short stories are glorious ammunition to fire at those who link brevity with insubstantiality. Nik Perring's pitch-perfect miniatures deal with such topics as death, love, loneliness and relationships with poetic cadences and dark humour. Although amongst these stories you will find boys who are sharks, girlfriends who perform magical heart surgery and mechanical women, these are no fairy tales but true fictions. Perring has the uncanny ability to raise up the everyday and the mundane. Nothing, thankfully, is black or white; the grey area is where the beauty lies. 

Don't shout at me - but I am really enjoying asking my interviewees to play Word Association related to their book to whet your appetite about the stories rather than answer very serious and clever questions about writing, many of which Nik has already answered so well on the previous stops on his tour, a list of which is available here. I did get myself together enough to ask him one "proper" question at the end!

So, here are my word prompts taken from the stories, and Nik's responses, together with very brief quotes from the book. Take it away Nik:

A state of compromise that is often strived for and occasionally reached.
Staring, her jaw set and lips pressed together, she hitches up her dress.

Something we’re given to define us. Often incorrect.
When she'd said his name it was as though it had weight, as though it had mass, colour.


 A natural reaction to an intense emotion, though it can depend on a person wanting to.
You see when a woman -  well, any woman I've ever known - starts to cry it's loud and breathless and all over the place.


There is no adequate definition for this word. Nothing can be described as normal.
She ticked when she moved and she thought no man could ever love her.

A thing that does things naturally and, mostly, without thinking. Often furry and hungry.
We were in a middle row on a plane on a flight back from Europe when my wife threw up a lemur.


An object that is as fragile as it is powerful.
"It won't hurt, my love," she whispered and I couldn't feel her kissing my lips. I couldn't feel her slice down my chest or split my ribcage either.


Something that happened a long time ago that’s remembered as being much better or much worse than it was.
Your mate, Mike, has been showing you the grenade he found amongst his granddad's belongings.
Something to bring order and colour to people’s (mostly) working lives with an adhesive strip on its rear.
The woman's house was a rainbow of squares. Its walls were a patchwork of Post-It notes, all equally space, almost aligned.

Tania: Nik, inspired by the recent feature in last weekend' Guardian, my question is: what is a question no-one has ever asked you and how would you answer it?

Nik: Now that is a good question.
I think the one question I've expected to be asked and haven't yet heard would be something like: How hard is it being a fiction writer. And if I was being honest in my reply I'd have to say: really hard indeed, at times. People often ask where I get ideas from (answer: my head) which can be difficult. There's a constant worry that ideas, or good ones at least, will dry up or that, even if I have them, I won't be able to make them into stories that are good enough for me to be happy with. Or even if I do it's a worry that no-one will like them. As fun as this job is, it does come with an awful lot of pressure and I think the worst thing about that is it's all pressure that comes from me so it's difficult to turn off.

Thanks so much Nik. I hope this gave you all a taste of Nik's fabulous short short stories, this is a glorious pocket-sized book whose contents are far bigger than their size might imply. Find out more on Roast Books and Nik's blog.


Marisa Birns said...

This was quite fun!

Have read and enjoyed the stories in Not So Perfect. And Tania is correct in saying that, though small in size, these short short stories are LARGE in excellence.

annie clarkson said...

wonderful word associations...

Miriam Drori said...

Nik, what lovely definitions, especially the one of childhood. It's so true. Thank you, Nik and Tania!

SueG said...

Great, you two. Love the word associations..leave it to you, Tania, to think of doing something special like this....

Nik Perring said...

Thanks all - and to Tania, of course. It really was good fun doing them!

virginia said...

I love these word associations, and the choices you've made for each person.

I have a list of writing links, including the Corvid Writers, on my blog (not shameless plugging, too lazy to copy and paste). I attended one of their workshops in 2006, on a whim, and loved their prompts. I had never considered writing as a profession, but I came away energized - a bit like the first time I held a camera.

This is one of my listed links - graphic novels about science (the writer has an interesting background):