To paraphrase Forrest Gump (and his momma): “twisted is as twisted does”- so grab your ebook copy of Twisted Tales (or a print copy by clicking here), a Readers’ Choice selection of short fiction from Readers’ Circle of Avenue Park. Literary lies, epic yarns – it’s an eclectic collection of stories by authors from around the globe.
In today’s Meet the Authors series I’m delighted to welcome to the blog Robyn Cain.
While in high school, Robyn Cain’s writing dreams budded and waned. Those dreams were rekindled after accomplishing a first class honours degree in English/Writing, and a PGCE. Robyn went on to complete her Masters in Creative Writing and taught English and creative writing.
Most of Robyn’s books are set in Cheshire, incorporating British and Asian cultures. Each novel is in a different genre. Seven Stops is a contemporary fiction novel; Goods By Hand and its sequel, Footsteps of Galatea, are supernatural novels set in modern day; and A Fine Balance, is a crime thriller novel. She Dreamed of Flash Fiction and Manna For Heaven are collections of mixed genre short stories. Devil’s Crochet is a collection of interwoven, supernatural stories. Other short stories by Robyn have been published in India. Robyn is currently working on the sequel to Seven Stops.
Your story Insanitary appears in the Readers Circle of Avenue Park’s recent anthology Twisted Tales. What made you decide on that story?
I’ve been writing a lot of short stories for a while and many have been about animals or from an animal’s perspective. As soon as I knew the title of the collection was Twisted Tales, my mind went into over drive. Who doesn’t love a tale with a twist! I’d been de-cluttering, sorting through my books and came across a very old copy of Jekyll and Hyde. I’ve always been fascinated by the human dual character/personality – especially when it’s in literature. I then just went one step sideways to create ‘man/woman’s best friend’ and fell in love with my little, very intelligent ‘Scruffy’. He knew the difference between right and wrong and only broke the rules because ordered to. I don’t have any pets but many of my friends do and the relationship/interaction is fascinating. After some internet research for authenticity, the result was my little story.
Did you find writing a short story easier or harder to write than what you’ve written in the past?
I normally enjoy short story writing as gap fillers to keep my writer’s block away. Having not long finished working on a collection of connected horror/supernatural stories called The Devil’s Crochet, writing for inclusion in Twisted Tales made perfect timing. Writing/creating a piece, whether it’s a short story/novel/book/flash fiction, varies. It’s the final production, or letting it go that’s hard. Short stories are easier to edit because there is less content and the more you write the easier the process does become. This particular story, Insanitary, was easier mainly because we were given a deadline and I’m good with them. It helped me to edit less, proof read faster and then let the piece go winging its way onwards sooner than I would have with a self imposed date. I find it hard to be strict with me; who’s going to tell me off for not handing work in on time?!
Who has been an important influence on your journey as a writer?
There’s been no specific event or one person influencing my life or journey as a writer. It’s been something I’ve always wanted to do since I learned to read English. Being brought up in a very strict Indian environment, I loved the adventures, freedom and escapism, (and all that forbidden bad stuff) that books allowed me. But because they didn’t address the dual culture that I belonged to and dealt with on a daily basis, I just knew that one day, I had to have heroines that felt and knew life as I did. My opportunity to write seriously was a long time coming. I joined a writers’ group when I had my daughter. I really enjoyed it. There have been many good friends who write and have been there listening to my efforts as I trod the ‘learner writer’s path’. My first serious novel, Seven Stops, was started during my MA where I had a lovely tutor, Paul Magrs, who was very encouraging and positive. If I’d had someone different, then who knows. Sometimes life still ends up at the same point. I’m very fortunate to be doing something I really love.
What’s your next project?
This is a tricky one to answer. There are so many things I want to be writing right now but I’ve just moved house and most of my time and effort is going on that. Once I’m able to knuckle down to the writing it’s going to be a choice of two. I know what I’d like it to be and I know what it should be. One is the sequel to my first published novel, Seven Stops which I mentioned above. Eighth Stop (working title) is close to my heart, which is probably why I’ve fiddled with it for over a year and not got beyond writing the first three chapters. I was almost seven years writing Seven Stops and became very attached to my characters. The other project is editing a ghost novel, Badger’s Inn, (working title). I completed the draft in 2013. The ghosts live in a fictional town juxtaposed with the ‘real’ that they haunt. It’s a light hearted look into government/council trickery, and how officialdom determine to get their own way by fair means or foul. Of course by the time I’m done editing, the plot could have changed completely, as is what usually happens with anything I write. Both of these books have been warring with one another for so long that they are stuck shoulder-to-shoulder, neither allowing the other to make it through the doorway. Basically I’m suffering from the proverbial decision making disorder!
Please share a little more of your writing background.
This should be the easiest to answer but I’d probably have to write a book on it. How long have we got? I think the short version might be saner. In a way I feel my journey isn’t that dissimilar to many other writers.
I have loved reading since being able to read. I never missed an English lesson at high school. It was probably the one class I spoke up in. I wrote stories and my teacher always praised my imagination and criticised my handwriting; so glad I learnt to touch type. I can’t remember how, but one of the best days of my life was finding out about the library. Not much kept me away from there. I went and always took out the maximum number of books allowed as often as my parents permitted me to go. I read prolifically and would stay up late into the night, even using a torch under the bed clothes. My teenage reading years devoured many series. I loved books on horses, such as Black Beauty and Flicker alongside well known classics like Little Women, Heidi, the Chalet books etc. Later I was drawn to romance/history and spent years sighing over the strong silent type heroes depicted by authors such as Jean Plaidy. And then I discovered fantasy/SF/horror and I started to collect Michael Moorcock, Asimov, Eddings and more. My writing sort of reflects my reading; I have a love of many genres. I got married and started reading all things romance. The first full length novel I wrote (50k words) was for Mills and Boon. They sent me a lovely, encouraging rejection. I’ve run (and still do) writers’ groups, published anthologies, and have taught creative writing at a local college. I get a buzz from listening to, reading, critiquing and encouraging fellow writers. I was commissioned to write a play and had another performed in my local town and I’ve had several short stories published, here and in India.
Where can readers reach you?
My books, novels and collections of short stories/flash fiction, are all available on Amazon. But when it comes to social media, I hold my hand up and say that I’m terrible at keeping up. My blog is only sporadically updated. I have a Facebook account that I only visit now and then. Twitter I suppose is the one I do the most and even that not regularly. As to Goodreads, Pinterest etc, I joined but can’t even remember when I last logged on. There just never seems to be enough time. Sorry!
The links for all three are:
Stay tuned for more Meet the Author interviews. If you like what you read in Twisted Tales you’re invited to leave a review on Amazon. Thanks!
Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Hercule Poirot and Sam Spade with Japan Noir and you have a new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s Son and The Thief’s Mistake – and sign up for my monthly newsletter at josephmarkbrewer.com — Thanks!