Katie Fforde talks about short stories

Katie FfordeWe’re delighted to share with you an interview about short stories with our patron Katie Fforde.

Can you remember the very first short story you wrote, and what it was about?
Actually, the first short story I wrote was published so I mistakenly thought I knew how to write them.

I can remember it clearly. It was based on an anecdote my friend had told me about how she’d gone up into her son’s bedroom the first time he took a female school friend there. She was terrified by what she might see and in fact they were both doing their math’s homework. Not knowing what else to say she blurted out ‘Sandwich anyone?’ which was the title of the story.

Which authors did you enjoy reading when you were at school?
I loved Georgette Heyer when I was at school, but oddly, we also discovered Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books when I was about twelve. I still like them! I also loved Beverly Cleary. We didn’t have television so I read loads.

What was the first short story you had published?
The first story I had published was the first one I wrote (see above!). I wrote another story and sent it to the same editor. She rejected it. I did sell it but for half the money. I began to realise that there was a lot more to this short story lark than I’d realised!

What’s the hardest part of writing a short story?
I think the hardest part about writing a short story is getting an idea that comes round in a circle. It doesn’t have to be a complete circle, there has to have been a change, but it has to have all the ends tied up neatly.

Where do you get your inspiration for your characters and plots?
I get my inspiration from everywhere. I sometimes use incidents in my daughter’s life (her children got locked in her car along with her keys and it was a nightmare) but if I think long enough I can usually come up with an idea. I get ideas from overhearing conversations quite often.

What advice do you have for someone still at school who would like to be a writer?
I think my best advice to anyone wanting to write is to read a lot, as much as you can. You learn from every book you read, especially if you take a few minutes to work out why you liked or disliked a book. It’s also good to practice developing your writer’s muscle. Observe people, (better if they don’t know you’re doing it) and make mental notes. I think writers are born not made, but a lot of people don’t discover they’re writers. If you’re always a bit on the outside and see things just a bit differently, you may well be a writer. Last thing! If you’re dyslexic this may be an advantage! I am and lots of my writer friends are.

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