Interview with Grant Stone

Grant Stone’s story, Hard Times for Bartleby Crow, appears in the Summer 2007 issue of Shimmer. For more information on Grant, visit his website here or drop him a note.


Where did the idea come from?

Frustration. I’d been working on a different story for quite some time and it was proceeding very slowly. When I reached the halfway point on that, it felt like I couldn’t see the end. So as a confidence booster, I thought I’d write something small and fun. And really, what could be more fun than pirates?

How did the story change as you developed it?
There wasn’t a lot of change in the writing, except for where the story ended. Which I’ll explain below…

You know the advice “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.” Was there a scene or line that it really hurt to cut, but cutting it made the story stronger?

In this story, it wasn’t so much a case of killing darlings as saving scoundrels. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but in its original version, the story ended a lot earlier. The part where Bartleby is left to die was where everything stopped. I had feedback from early readers that this was too cruel. While I could see their point, I didn’t think Bartleby being rescued was appropriate. So I had to come up with a new ending that preserved the events of the original but provided some hope. Interestingly, the new ending has given me an idea for a sequel…

How is this story like your other work? How is it different?
Although I like to think I write fantasy, this story is probably the closest I’ve come to a traditional fantasy story. The other stories I’ve sold have contemporary settings, and one in particular is far darker and more violent.

Questions About Writing:

What writing projects are you presently working on?
More short stories. At the time of writing this I have another two in second draft and two more are begging to be written. I’m dedicating all of this year and the next to short stories. After that I’ll decide if it’s time to approach the dreaded novel.

Favorite book you’ve read recently?
I’m a huge Michael Moorcock fan and I’ve been working my way through the entire Eternal Champion series. I just read the first two Oswald Bastable books, The Warlord of the Air and The Land Leviathan and they’re absolutely terrific. I’m currently reading The Religion by Tim Willocks. I loved his earlier novels (Green River Rising, Blood-Stained Kings and Bad City Blues). This one’s very different, but it’s still a powerful read.

What fictional character would you love to drink tea with?

Tyrion from George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series would be an interesting guy to sit down with. Or possibly Yossarian from Catch-22.

How long had you been submitting before you made your first sale?
About seven months. I decided to try and write for submission at the start of last year. I started submitting in July and had my first sale this February.

How did you celebrate your first sale?
I don’t know if I really did, but I wandered around in a daze for a couple of weeks. Hm. Perhaps I should celebrate that now…

Random Questions:

What is your darkest secret?

I tell everyone my favorite show is either Deadwood or Doctor Who, but really it’s Gilmore Girls.

If you had a working time machine what advice would you give a younger self?
I probably wouldn’t do something clever like give advice to before-me. Instead, I’d follow before-me around wearing some kind of future suit (probably sparkly silver spandex). Every few days I’d jump out in front of me, waggle my fingers and say “Oooooh! Spooky future! Oogy boogie boogie!”

Eventually, before-me would get a restraining order against me, I guess.

Favorite food?
There’s no way I can pick just one. I can say that anything tastes better if you add Kaitaia Fire and Japanese mayonnaise.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
All my life I’ve wanted to write software and write stories. Since I do both now, does that make me grown up? Hopefully not.

If you have a day job, what is it? What do you like about it?
I write software. I love starting with a blank page and ending up with something that works the way it should. It seems to me that programming uses the same muscles as writing: a combination of logic and intuition. I just wish someone would come up with some way to unit test a short story. That could well be the geekiest thing I’ve written for a long time.

Quiz: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb? Please explain your answer:
Only one, but after the initial success, he’d change it a couple more times, just to fill out the trilogy.

As a writer, what resources have you found to be essential?
Podcasts. There’s absolutely no reason to be listening to those stupid morning show DJs on your way to work any more, when there is so much good audio around. One I highly recommend is Mur Lafferty’s I should be writing. Mur always has great advice and encouragement. And if you want to catch up on classic sci-fi authors you may have missed, check out StarShipSofa. I could list more, but podcasts are like Pringles. It starts with one or two, but before you know it you’re pulling down more than you can listen to

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