Short, Sharp Interview: Martin Garrity

solarcidal tedanciesPDB: Can you pitch SOLARCIDAL TENDENCIES in 25 words or less?

MG: It’s an anthology, a ‘Best Of’ from content featured at the Solarcide website. Edgy, weird stories. Some funny ones too, but with a dark humour.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

MG: Not much of a film buff, and I am always playing catch-up with TV, so I’ll stick to the books and music for this one. I listen to a lot of heavy metal and rock music, and there are lots of good things coming out of both Europe and the US. If I had to plug one band right now, then it would be Jess and the Ancient Ones, a Finnish project that play some top of the line psychedelic rock music. They put out CDs in 2012 and 2013, both great listens. A lot of people I play them to are surprised by how they sound. They have a trippy, funky sound. Probably more accessible than a lot of the stuff I listen to. They have a great vibe and quality musicianship.

Reading-wise, I am really digging Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy. I read the first part, Annihilation, a few weeks back and am currently most of the way through Authority. A third instalment is due later this year and I will be all over that when it drops. I would recommend these books to just about anybody, but especially those who like their fiction to have a curious slant to it. It’s a weird world that is unfolding through these volumes.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

MG: Yeah, I think so. I know that when I sit down on the sofa with an actual book, I am in a different frame of mind to what I am in when I am reading a story submission, reviewing somebody’s work, or editing my own. I guess if something is presented to me as finished work, then I am going to approach reading it in a different way. Maybe regular writers are going to be less forgiving of typos or what they consider to be sloppy writing but plenty of people that don’t write are quick to spot that stuff too.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

MG: Not especially, or at least, not at this time. Never say never, but I am more hobby writer than I am career author. I do it because it is fun, not to make money. Writing for TV and the like seems to me a really competitive and high-octane field, and I think it would stress me out. I don’t think it would suit me at all, I like to dawdle around and spend ages on a silly flash fiction piece. Regular writing deadlines might kill me. Also, I don’t write much in the higher word count territory.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

MG: My own work—not a lot to be honest. But as I mentioned, most of my work is daft flash fiction and silly short stories. They are sourced more from inane daydreams than they are from any kind of research.

The authors that I help to publish in our anthology projects? Some of those guys and gals are much better authors than me. Some of the stories are dripping in the kind of detail you know can only come from good research, and maybe more importantly, life experience. The opening story in Tendencies, by Jessica Leonard, is a somewhat unconventional account of a new mother’s experience of the “miracle” she just went through. It is loaded with detail, to the point where you feel parts of the story as much as you read them. And that’s a male reader’s feedback. I would love to be an observer inside the minds of female readers of that story. I imagine the response to be a strong one.

Also, I have to wonder how many MI5 and FBI lists some of these authors must end up when the internet companies flag up their browsing history. The stories Solarcide deals in are always dark in nature, but then authors like Bryan Howie show up, and then the game changes. Howie is a master of dark fiction and his work feels well researched. It is authentic and he tells the story with authority. His story (co-authored with his buddy K. A. Hunter) in the Tendencies anthology is about bestiality. For visceral reading, it’s a story that I think competes with any short story Chuck Palahniuk has written. That’s all I’ll say here.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

MG: If we are only talking about Facebook and Twitter and the like, then sure, they are useful. If we expand it to include the great writing forums and online workshop groups etc that are out there, then I change my answer to vital. There is no substitute for finding yourself in a supportive writing community environment. Many people do not have access to this kind of group away from the computer, but you can find it online and it really does make a difference. It always has been one of the better sides of the internet, the ability to connect and share with people who have a similar passion to yourself. These communities have been immeasurably helpful to me, and I like to think they have allowed me to help others.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

MG: For a little while, I am going to be enjoying the fact that Solarcidal Tendencies is finally finished and released. (It has been a long time in the making, probably two years all in all)

After that, my next project is another that has been a long time coming. Corridors is a collection of my own work, the aforementioned silly shorts and daft flash. It’s something I have been tinkering with a long while, adding bits here, taking bits away there. It’s not far off done now though. I am looking forward to unleashing it.

And I am taking part in a writing competition over at the Lit Demon website. This is the third incarnation of the WAR tournament and more than sixty authors are involved this time. It features prompted short story duels, with reader voting to determine who progresses through each round. It’s a whole lot of fun and it’s great for productivity. I have a fairly decent record from the first two tournaments, so hopefully I don’t let myself down and get eliminated in round one!

Bio: Martin Garrity hails from Mansfield, England. He is an avid fan of dark fiction and a heavy metal disciple. Alongside his partner in crime, the reverend Nathan Pettigrew, he co-edits the literary website Solarcide and its associated anthology projects. He likes to refer to Solarcide as “part publisher, part porfolio, part playground.” All kinds of fun things happen there.

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