Goldfish Grimm: If we could peek into your office (coffee shop, kitchen table, wherever you write), what would your writing process look like?
Nicola Belte: It varies. Some days it looks professional, all neatly stacked notebooks, bullet-point outlines and clearly-labeled folders and organized files, and on others it’s a mass of tea-cups, lipstick blotted council tax bills and crumpled, cryptic memos. It’s usually the latter.
GFG: What is it actually like?
NB: Most of my stories begin with words or phrases that I like the sound of, and I go from there, even though they might not make any sense to me at all when I actually start to write them (this particular story came from the scribble: ‘shadow matador’). I rarely plot anything out beforehand, but after the first (terrible) draft I can usually see where my mind is going and can find links between all the random associations, and then after lots of polishing and deleting and staring blankly at the screen, hopefully something resembling a story emerges.
GFG: Was there anything in particular that inspired “Red in Tooth and Claw”?
The title’s taken from Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H:
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed
So while I’d love to say that I set out to write about the imposition of culture onto nature, the irreconcilability of the two, and about loss and belief, my train of thought actually followed this path: ‘shadow matador’-‘cape’-‘superhero’-‘villain’-‘cool!’
GFG: Do you think the little boy’s warding off of these strange “animals” that hang around his mother is an innocent child’s self-preservation impulse or is his behavior rooted in something more sinister?
NB: The boy wants to survive. He’s in an environment that feels hostile to him; and his fear and his concerns about being abandoned are very real, so does that mitigate his actions? I don’t know. I wanted him to be ambiguous, to embody nature at its most selfish, destructive level, but also to show the very human emotions that are prompting his behaviour. So he’s Damien, the son of a jackal, viewed through the eyes of the Dalai Lama. Or something.
GFG: Do you have anything you’d like to plug or promote?
NB: I’m currently working on a YA adult novel, and a selection of short stories, but as they’re not quite plug-ready yet, in the meantime there’s a selection of published work for anybody interested on my blog, at nicolabelte.blogspot.com
Nicola Belte lives in Birmingham, U.K, and is a part-time barmaid, part time MA student, and an in-between time writer of weird fiction. Her work has been published by Flash Fiction Online, Spilling Ink Review and The Lovecraft Ezine, amongst others, all of which you can find at her blog, here: www.nicolabelte.blogspot.com