Read Abi’s story The Gastrosophist
Hi Abi. Can you tell us about a writing moment of yours that you’re most proud of?
I recently had my first short story published in Interzone magazine. Seeing my name on that cover was a really big deal for me. I’d been putting off submitting to them for years because I was waiting to feel like my writing was ‘good enough’. But then I had this weird sort-of science-fiction story, ‘The Mark’, that I felt really proud of, but no one else wanted it, even though I’d been sending it all over the place for literally about 3 years. And I just had this feeling that it was good, and that it would be at home somewhere like Interzone, so in the end I bit the bullet and sent it in. I danced around my living room when I got that acceptance.
There’s something extra satisfying about getting into something that feels like an established part of the science fiction world that is so often still a bit of a boys’ club. It felt amazing to see them publish my strange story about monkey-people and periods and love and childbirth.
What’s your favourite short story?
I think I’d have to go with Joanna Quinn’s ‘War of all against all’. It was on the reading list for a brilliant short story writing course I did with Comma Press, taught by the fabulous Sarah Schofield. For me, it delivers on its science fiction concept beautifully with such empathy and humanity, and the reveal happens at just the right time to give you a real punch in the gut. I still think about it a lot.
Who’s your favourite female author and why?
Arrrrghhhh that’s an impossible question! I love so many and they are all very different sorts of loves. I’m working my way through all of Ursula K Le Guin’s work that I haven’t read before at the moment, and it’s her wisdom that keeps taking my breath away. That sense of ‘Wow, yes, that is the way of things, even though no one else says it. How does she know??’
She also makes me believe that big, wild, ambitious, strange books can be important and powerful, when it sometimes seems to me like the literary mainstream is only interested in restraint. I was reading her guide to writing, Steering the Craft, the week she died, and it taught me so much. Her advice is so practical and no-nonsense, however huge and other-worldly her stories are.
What does weird fiction mean to you?
I think I write weird fiction even when I don’t mean to! It’s the main thing people comment on about my work, even when I don’t think what I’ve written is anything to do with the science fiction or fantasy genres.
I suppose it’s more about a way of looking at the world that twists things a bit, or comes at ideas from an unusual or surprising angle. I like to point at things and go: ‘Isn’t this thing here odd/funny/poignant if we look at it like this?’ All my favourite writers, who you could probably describe as ‘weird fiction’ writers in some form or another, it feels like what they’re all doing in their stories is: ‘Yes, but. What if?’
What’s a trope of fiction that gets on your nerves and why?
You know what, I really hate a clunky ‘and this is how come I’m writing this down and you get to read it’ explanation in first-person narratives. It’s just a bit inelegant, isn’t it? Like, I know I’m reading a novel. You don’t have to force your protagonist to be the sort of person who always carries a diary around with her because she’s trying to jog her memory about her dead sister or some other thin backstory reason.
Where can readers find out more about you?
You can read some of my short stories and other ramblings over on my website at abihynes.wordpress.com
Or I’m much funnier on Twitter at @AbiFaro
Keep your eyes peeled for Disturbing the Beast
Disturbing the Beast is a collection of weird fiction stories by some of the best women writers in the UK, featuring Kirsty Logan and Aliya Whiteley.
Submit to the collection by the 14th September.
Support the Disturbing the Beast Kickstarter campaign: Weird fiction from women writers featuring Aliya Whiteley, Kirsty Logan and more.