Goldfish Grimm: If we could peek into your office (coffee shop, kitchen table, wherever you write), what would your writing process look like?
Michelle Ann King: I write on a laptop on the breakfast bar in my kitchen–close to the coffee!–with my corkboard, stacks of post-its in different sizes and colours, index cards, felt pens, memo blocks, notebooks, scrap pads, highlighters, reference books and mindmaps. It probably looks like I’m preparing to host a stationery version of a tupperware party.
GFG: What is it actually like?
MAK: I usually plan a story as a vague whole first, in the sense of ‘I want to write about X, Y and Z.’ I do plot ahead–but only a little way at a time. I learn my characters by writing them, which means the story ALWAYS changes once it gets on the page. Once I get going, it becomes a kind of looping process: write the current scene, outline the next scene, edit the previous scene–and repeat as necessary until the story is done. Sometimes it can be a bit ‘two steps forward one step back,’ but it does at least keep moving in the right direction.
GFG: Was there anything in particular that inspired “The Portal to a Lost World”?
MAK: My stories are often inspired by elements in other things I read or watch, but in this case it was all personal–the ‘X, Y and Z’ that came together were my own anxiety about answering the phone, the overgrown rockery at the bottom of my garden and seeing my reflection, silhouetted and creepily featureless, in the window. It started me thinking about doppelgangers, and where they come from–and where they might go–and what it would be like to get a phone call from one.
GFG: What is the weirdest phone call you’ve ever received?
MAK: This was when I worked in an office, years ago. I answered the phone with my name, and the girl said, ‘Hi, it’s Jackie, I wanted to let you know I’m going to be late.’ One of my colleagues was called Jackie and it sounded exactly like her, so I said, ‘Ok, what’s up?’ She launched straight into this very detailed and intimate story about the guy she’d met the night before and exactly why he’d made her late–which I listened to in absolute amazement, since the girl I knew was extremely prim and proper. I got as far as, ‘Wow,’ when my Jackie walked in the door. It turned out to be a completely random wrong number, but the Jackie on the phone also had a colleague called Michelle who apparently sounded just like me. I think they were closer friends, though.
GFG: Do you have anything you’d like to plug or promote?
MAK: Details of my published books and stories can be found at my website. The first volume of my short story collection, Transient Tales, is also free at Smashwords until 25th November, with code WS99D
Michelle Ann King
Michelle Ann King writes SF, dark fantasy and horror from her kitchen table in Essex, England. Her stories have appeared in various venues, including Daily Science Fiction, Penumbra Magazine, and Drabblecast. She has worked as a makeup artist, tarot reader and insurance claims handler before having the good fortune to be able to write full-time. Find details of her stories and books at www.transientcactus.co.uk