Monday, March 5, 2012

Martin Pond - Dark Steps

Today we have Martin Pond with us to talk about his book Dark Steps.

Where do you currently live?
Not far from the city of Norwich, England.

Tell us a little bit about your life.
By day I work in IT, and have done for nearly 20 years. Outside of work I spend most of my time with my partner and our toddler. Beyond that, I try to fit in some writing time!

When did you first start writing?
I wrote a lot as a child and in my student days, but then career pressures put paid to that. I starting writing again in 2007, and have really enjoyed getting back into the swing of it.

What was your very first story about?
The first story I wrote after resuming writing, The Inheritance, concerns a man who, on his death-bed, confesses his murderous past to his son. Not a comedy!

Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
I'm usually a bit afraid to let anyone read anything I write, and the closer the person is to me the more afraid I get. What if it's not any good?

Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
Not precisely, though sometimes personal experience inspires an idea. For example, being a new father and listening to a baby monitor every night gave me the idea for Dream Feed, a story in my collection Dark Steps.

Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
The writer I have read more than any other is Stephen King, and I think that probably shows in my writing. I'm also a big fan of Nick Hornby, and admire his skill with conversational narrative. Similarly, I can only aspire to Cormac McCarhty's concision. David Morrell's collection Black Eveninginspired me to create my own book - I had an "I wish I'd written that" moment, and from there the idea of publishing what I had written grew.

What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
I am postgradute educated but not in creative writing or an arts subject. I have done a diploma in creative writing with the highly regarded University of East Anglia, and that made me re-evaluate every aspect of my writing process. The most productive side-effect of the diploma is that my course-mates and I continue to meet as a critique group, some years after the course ended. That, and the trusted, honest feedback it brings, are invaluable.

How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
It varies tremendously, based on the story. For example, The Inheritance required some knowledge of police procedure and medical practice. Another, Egg, required me to know a little about poisons. Others, where the subject matter is entirely within the realms of your own experience, require no research at all - life has already done that for me.

Who is your favorite literary character?
A tough question, and the answer varies depending on my mood. Right now, I'm going to say Rob in High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby. I identify with him more than perhaps any other, his compulsive list-making, his record-collecting, the over-analysis of his relationships. Now if I could just run my own record store...

Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
Peter Potter, the narrator and anti-hero of my work-in-progress novel Drawn To The Deep End. Being a much longer piece than anything I've written before, I've really had the time to get under his skin.

If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
Given my surname, I might take the opportunity to strain a Bob Dylan pun and call it "Pond on Pond".

Tell us about your featured book.
Dark Steps is a collection of eight short stories, each one with a twist in the tale. I try to avoid genre pigeon-holing, and I certainly wouldn't call them horror stories per sé, but I hope that they are at least unsettling, tales of the unexpected. There is darkness all around us, and I've tried to write about that, in the hope of creating something that lingers in the memory long after the reader has put the book down.

Why did you write that?
Having written a lot of short fiction over a three year period, I took the opportunity to collect the best examples together, to see what the rest of the world things about them. I also hope to build a readership in preparation for the aforementioned novel, which I plan to publish later this year.

Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
I think you'll like Dark Steps, I really do. Try it. As the advert says, what's the worst that can happen...?

What is hiding in your closet as we speak?
The last 30,000 words of my work-in-progress novel!

If you could learn one new thing instantly, what would it be?
To play like a concert pianist.

Our thanks to Martin for taking the time to be with us. His stories can be found below.

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