Lauren Bell is the author of flash fiction piece ‘Clay’.
Lauren lives in Birmingham, is often drunk on inspiration and will attempt to start work on a novel soon. Her work has been published by Word Bohemia, Synaesthesia Magazine, Bare Fiction, The Casket of Fictional Delights and Storgy Magazine where she is a contributing writer.
Short Story Sunday Q & A with Lauren Bell
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?
As a writer you are constantly attuned to your environment, looking for things which stand out, meaning you take in pretty much everything including the people, the land, the transport, the sky etc. Clay came to me when I was on the train on my way to work and saw this young woman’s profile silhouetted against the slate grey backdrop of Birmingham. Her features were small and sharp, perfect points, as though someone had created them using clay. That’s when I thought: Hey, maybe I could write a piece about a person whose features are made from clay.
When did you start writing?
My love and passion for literature has stemmed from my childhood and is something that has grown exponentially as I have aged. I started writing seriously when I was in college, so probably about 17-18 and was really inspired to pursue this path from my English teacher who was (and probably still is) fantastic at what he does!
Do you have a favourite genre?
To be honest I don’t have a particularly favourite genre. I think when you stumble across quality writing, the genre doesn’t matter; it’s the words on the page which count. Having said that, I have recently been delving into the realms of horror and the supernatural, and I do love fantasy and magical realism.
What’s your favourite book or short story?
I really fear this question because there are thousands and thousands of fantastic stories out there, and I know once I say one, there will be an extremely long list of stories I’ve forgotten to mention. I think for me, one of the best books I have read which has stayed with me is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Dandelion Wine showed me how beautiful words can be. Throughout, the reader feels like they are riding a poetic wave full of mind-expanding imagery, and also forced me to think outside the box in terms of describing my own environment. I also love Neil Gaiman’s work because despite his protagonists undertaking a journey of self-discovery where they are stretched to the limits of human endurance, you know they will be all right in the end. His narrative tone is comforting, and his words are deeply humane and resonate for a long time afterwards.
What has been your biggest challenge as a writer?
For me there are two challenges: firstly, to write something which hasn’t been written before which I believe is virtually impossible to achieve since there are millions of stories in existence from mythology and folklore to modern stories by contemporary authors; and secondly, as a contributing writer to Storgy magazine, where I have to write a new short story each month which is either based on a photo or title.
Are you currently working on a full-length novel and looking for an agent/publisher?
I’m pretty annoyed about this if I’m honest. I was meant to start work on what would hopefully be my novel this month (October) but I have focused on sending my short stories out to literary magazines instead. I’m hoping that if I can get enough published then I might be able to have a short story collection published. But I know I really have to start cracking on with my novel.
What do you most enjoy about writing?
I find it (mostly) to be therapeutic and love the freedom it gives me to invent surreal situations and create characters who live weird and wonderful lives. I enjoy expressing myself with words and composing stories with either memorable situations or characters (although preferably both), and like to think of them as little gifts I can share with others.
Amazon: Friend or foe?
I’m kind of half and half on this one. On the one hand, I love how affordable Amazon makes literature which enables more people to buy, experience and enjoy great stories. By reducing the cost, they are increasing the reading population and making them aware of new titles and new authors. To me, this is the single greatest thing in the world – to discover new talent, new ways of writing, new ways of capturing and interacting with the world. On the other hand though, Amazon takes the fun out of walking into a bookstore and browsing the titles on the shelf, feeling the physical article in your hands.
There is something magical in holding an unread book and wondering what adventure awaits beneath the cover. Bookstores also fill me with an incredible sense of wonder, and to think that these spaces which are filled with millions of words and fascinating stories are in decline, deeply saddens me. I am a passionate advocate for the preservation of the printed book, and always will be, and hope that bookstores will continue to thrive long into the future.