An Interview with the Winner of August's: Talk to Me Challenge + some thoughts on dialogue07:46
WEBOOK INTERVIEWS OUR WINNER OF THE AUGUST: TALK TO ME CHALLENGE
What made you pick the sentence you used? Was it a matter of the sentence inspiring the story, or did you feel like you had to make it fit in to the story you already wanted to write?
S_WilsonDisher: This is a good question – I had no difficulty picking the sentence I wanted to use. It leapt out at me and immediately images of the people, the interior of the house etc., were right in front of me.
WEbook: Do you find that this type of prescriptive writing challenge is good for your development as a writer, or does it stunt your creativity too much?
S_WilsonDisher: I enjoy such challenges, for, rather than stunt creativity they make me think ‘Now what can I do with this?’. It reminds me of my teaching where I give kids a whole pile of scraps and glue, a theme and the instruction to make a Cerberus dog. Creative solutions arise which I could never have predicted.
WEbook: The ability to write dialogue is a crucial skill for a successful author, yet it’s difficult to deliver convincingly. The one moment every author strives to avoid is the awkward squirm of the reader as they read a wholly unconvincing line; how did you initially develop the flow of your dialogue, and does it go through any testing?
S_WilsonDisher: I try to get into the heads of my characters – for instance, Jesphaxia the young girl. I wanted to make her sound like my young girl students and how they would react to a funny ‘alien’ baby turning up in their back yard, and what they would so and say. Would they feed it? Of course they would. I make sure as I write that what the characters say is consistent with their personalities. In editing, I take out or rewrite any words or expressions which would be out of character. For this story, there were hardly any changes.
WEbook: ‘Them Earthies’ is a humorous, and somewhat philosophical, role reversal for your characters and us as humans. How did you come up with the idea?
S_WilsonDisher: I have been playing around with the notions of parallel universes since I was a young girl. I invented an ongoing story of critters which looked a bit like horses – stories I told to my sister when she was a little girl. She called them the ‘funny stories’.
WEbook: Your story is very well paced. We at no point feel as though the reveal of information or a climatical point is being rushed. This is in part to do with your very natural use of conversational dialogue. Did you find yourself having to cut bits of the story out to fit the word count, and if so, how did you manage to mitigate the potential disruption this could have caused to the flow of your story?
S_WilsonDisher: Fitting the word count was not too difficult. I usually go back and take out any superfluous ‘ands,’ ‘thens’ and so forth. I usually find ways to truncate a sentence without losing the flow, choosing one word which would encapsulate the idea.
WEbook: What are you working on at the moment? Is there somewhere that we can read some more of what you’ve written?
S_WilsonDisher: I’m working on a major project triggered by an idea which has been in my in-tray for some time. It is a philosophical set of ‘books’ about the very race of people in ‘Them Aliens’.
The first story is set 200 years in the future, and centres around a young dancer who is fixated with some ‘Earthies’ he spots on his inter-plane ambassador father’s communication machine. While it is not humour as such, it contains a lot of humour arising out of the exchanges between the characters. But the underlying themes, are of the interaction between people on Earth and the other Plane, their philosophies and the arts.
Each story overlaps, so that the reader is taken on a journey through five generations of characters, with numerous twists and turns, disasters, and plagues as the characters negotiate their way through the Time Passages and Divides which connect Earth with the other plane, Ezskiasia. If you'd like to have a read of the first chapter, you can do here.
I also have two pieces of writing which I’ve blogged but which are set firmly on Earth! One of them had its first draft on WEbook. ‘The Biggest Gravel Mound on Earth’ which has since been subject to some serious editing.
WEbook: Who are your favourite authors / books and how have they influenced your writing?
S_WilsonDisher: My favorite authors are those who have helped my craft my ideas rather than the ideas themselves. Australian writer Colleen McCullough, has been hugely influential both for her writing skills and her intellect (she was a scientist).
New Zealand Modernist writer Katherine Mansfield is another for the same reasons. Somerset Maugham is a favorite for his craftsmanship and portrayal of his characters. New Zealand writers such as Janet Frame and Elizabeth Knox have played a major part for the reasons already given but also more importantly, in the way they are able to suggest the unseen without ever resorting to clumsy in-your-face descriptions. Oddly enough I usually read non-fiction, such as biographies, history and the natural sciences because they form the background, for the background (!) of my current project.
WEbook: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and for giving such interesting answers! Best of luck with your upcoming entries in the monthly challenges, we certainly look forwards to reading them!
- Hannah from the WEbook Team