This weeks interview comes in the form of Callum Pearce, a fiction writer published multiple times across a variety of platforms. Originally from Liverpool, Callum now resides in the Netherlands. Enjoy!
Tell me about yourself – when did you begin writing and what current projects do you have?
I’ve always written obsessively since I was young. Living quite a hectic life and moving around a lot, I never got around to finishing things and sending them off. About a year ago, I decided to send some factual articles I had written to a gay lifestyle website. When they were published, I decided to start completing and sending some fictional work off. First, I entered a competition with the Bold mom. People responded well to that story and I placed quite highly in competition with a lot of published authors. After this, we moved house and had a busy year, so I properly started again in December. I’m now treating it like a job, planning, completing and sending lots of stories off for anthologies and competitions.
What does your writing process look like? How many hours a week would you devote to it? Are you a single work at a time writer or do you have a few plates spinning at one time?
At the moment I am treating it like a full time job. I work every day writing and sending off short horror stories, when they are ready. Usually, I will be focused on one that has a deadline coming up but also working on others in the background. I also have fantasy stories that will take longer, as there is more work to do to build the worlds that they exist in. EDITORS NOTE: Since this interview, Callum has begun work on a secret collaboration with two other authors. More to come in the future!
What’s the best money you’ve spent as a writer?
It isn’t immediately noticeable as writing related, but our allotment is the best money we spend each year. We have a small wooden house on it , where I can sit and write when I finish working in there. The work helps my physical and mental health and the garden fills me with inspiration all year round.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I’ve got a story that is going to be published online for “Nothing ever happens in Fox Hollow”. I found this to be one that I had to be the most careful about. The story is based around the suicide of one half of a toxic relationship. I’ve known people who felt this way and I know that friends of mine have had their experiences too. So whilst this story felt like it should be told and is entertaining. I had to be careful about how I told it and also how much space it took. It’s short, snide and hopefully entertaining.
What book made you think ‘I want to be a writer’?
“George’s marvelous medicine”, as a child. We had a cool teacher that used to come in to our class to read to us in primary school. She used to do all of the voices and really get into the stories. She also picked the absolute best stuff to read, Roald Dahl, or “The Hobbit”. I was hooked on what stories could do from then onward. I used to be rewarded for good behavior by being allowed to read stories that I’d written to the other class at the end of the week.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For a lot of the things that I’m working on at the moment, not a lot of research is necessary. Sometimes I will need to know something specific. For a recent story I had to look for information on bodies decomposing and processes when a body is found after rotting for a while in a flat. Other times I may have to look into differences between America and the UK. School system / job titles etc.
What’s the best criticism you’ve received about your work?
I’ve had lots of positive responses so far. I used to rush to send things off. I’m better with that now and take more time over things. Any criticism that I get, is usually because of that and relates to things that I’m aware that I do when rushing. Overly long sentences, large blocks of words making long paragraphs. This is why I enjoyed the challenge of writing drabbles. I found it useful having to refine the story into just what needs to be told, whilst still constructing a satisfying tale.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I’ve got about four things in the background that I’m happy to work on slowly, when I’m not working on things with deadlines. Two themed books of short stories connected by a larger story that I add to every so often and a couple of fantasy novels that started as short stories. I felt there was more to tell in those worlds.
Finally, what goals do you have for 2020 and beyond?
This year I’m mostly focusing on sending out lots of short stories, building a reputation and an audience. I think it’s also important to me to be chosen for other people’s anthologies and see what reactions I get from competitions that I enter for now. I think that builds my confidence to release something that is entirely my work later. So far it’s going very well.
Callum can be found on Facebook and Twitter. His work will be featured in Fatal Faeries, an upcoming drabble anthology by Nocturnal Sirens Publishing and in Forgotten Ones from the wonderful Eerie River. Click through to learn more about Callum and to order his work!