One of the things we want to do here at Trust & Treachery is give you a chance to get to meet our authors. Over the next few weeks, you will see bios and Q&As for our amazing contributors. Although we continue to run behind in our posting schedule, today is Stephen McQuiggan. As a small note, I’m embarrassed to say we accidentally sent the Q&A to Stephen twice, and with good humor, he responded. Twice. Stay tuned as additional authors are added.
Best, Editors, Trust & Treachery
Stephen McQuiggan spent the first twenty years of his life in a chicken coop before being rescued by a kindly Quaker family who shaved his hands and taught him how to speak. He has been published in Prole, Gold Dust, Debut and AWR amongst others, and features in the latest anthologies from Mirador and Grist. He lives in Northern Ireland and still has an aversion to eggs.
Do you have any recent events to announce (of publications or anything else exciting)?
I am in the current issues of Subterranean, Debut, Prole and Strange Circle , and will appear in forthcoming anthologies from Headhunters and Austin MaCauley. I also appear in the latest anthologies from Mirador ( Fantasmagoria), Grist ( Outside The Asylum), and WIP ( Walking On The Wildside).
What inspired you to write this story?
Noisy neighbours and a burning desire, not acted upon, to wreak severe retribution upon them. Then I got to thinking, what if they had a reason for being anti social… and the story took shape almost instantly. The guy at the end with the hammer though is probably some sub conscious representation of me.
What books and/or authors have most influenced you?
Too many to list fully, but I love Orwell, Dostoevesky, George Eliot, Nick Cave, Irvine Welsh, Tolkien, Dickens, Atwood, King, Penny Rimbaud, and Vonnegut especially.
What are you reading now?
House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – an amazingly original, frustrating, annoying, frightening piece of work. What a debut! I’ve read it a few times now and it still surprises me. A contrary masterpeice, and a great example of how there are no rules to writing if you belief in your tale is strong enough.
What are your current projects?
Working on a slew of new short stories (as always), and beginning to see the light at the end of my first novel which has took on a very spirited life all of its own. It grew out of a simple short story and I fear I’ll have to take the pruning shears to it before it’s all over.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read everything, read widely. Write everyday and write for yourself. It doesn’t matter if no-one ever reads it. No piece of writing is ever truly wasted. The more rejections you get, the sweeter the acceptances. Get yourself a rhino hide and never give up. AND stay dry and you will never be the victim of a shark attack.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I guess what I really want to do with my writing is to try and make some sense of this deranged world for myself. I find it very cathartic. If other people find something in it that’s an unexpected bonus.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
‘Let us be men, not monkeys minding machines.’ – DH Lawrence – more Situationist grafitti than poem, I see it as a call to arms. I’ve spent my working life in factories but they’ve never captured my soul. No matter what drudgery your faced with, your mind can transcend it.
‘Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket’ – George Orwell – it sums up succinctly how I feel about modern culture.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
That’s a tough one. I’m not really prone to looking back at accomplishments. I’m a ‘glass half empty’ realist.
A lot of small things, but I promise I’ll invite you to my death bed for a startling, earth rattling revelation.
What inspires you to write and why?
My partner Dawn. She encouraged me to write in the first place, hounded me to start sending my stories away, and generally made me start to believe in myself. She is the sauce on my pasta. I thought writing would fill the God shaped hole inside me, then realised Dawn was already doing that job.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
All criticism is hard to bear, especially when you’ve put your heart into something. The best compliment I recieved actually came in a rejection. An editor, who actually really liked the story I’d submitted, turned it down because it was ‘severely fucking disturbing’. I was pleased because I knew I had achieved what I had set out to do with that particular tale.
Tell us something unusual (or fun) about you.
I am 30 centimetres tall and have to write with a specially adapted chaffinch feather.
BB King once gave me his guitar pick to cheer me up because he thought I looked depressed.