Writing short stories

Source: The Bookseller Author:Chris McQueer  2019-02-11 14:46 

I first started writing short stories about two and a half years ago. Writing was the first hobby or interest I’d tried and felt instantly like, 'This is absolutely brilliant? Why didn’t I try this sooner?'. As soon as I finished writing my first short story, about a month trying to take over a guy’s mind, I knew this was what I wanted to do for a living. So I just kept going, averaging a short story a week and putting them online for people on Twitter to read. I built up a wee following on there thanks to my stories. I was writing about people and places that weren’t normally found in literature, or if they were it was usually done in a derogatory way or painted my part of the city as a place full of crime, drink and drug abuse and general grimness. I just wanted to show the lighter side of Glasgow and have a bit of a laugh.

After I had a short story published in 404 Ink’s literary magazine, I asked them if they’d take a look at the rest of my stories. They did and thankfully they really liked them and the next thing I knew I was in Edinburgh signing my first book deal with them, having only been writing for about a year.

Since my first collection, Hings, was published, my life has been 100 miles an hour and I’ve no idea where the last couple of years have gone. I’ve been writing full-time for just over a year now after I gave up my job working in a sports shop. Working in retail is definitely one of the best jobs for a writer to have because I was just surrounded by people, all day, every day, that I could watch and listen to (in a non-weird way). This gave me a good ear for dialogue and I’m obsessed with replicating people’s speech patterns, dialects and unique tics in my writing.

My second book, HWFG, came out at the tail end of 2018 and I went a wee bit darker with my subject matter and made the stories a bit more surreal. I love writing about class and it’s probably the theme that pops up the most in my stories. I’m fascinated with this social construct and how it impacts all of our lives in even the smallest ways. I use the dynamic of a middle class person meeting a working class person in an unfamiliar environment a lot because it creates so many opportunities for humour as well as allowing me to do a bit of social commentary.

One of the best things that’s happened since my books came out is definitely the amount of people who say things to me like, "This is the first book I’ve read since school". I love that. My books are daft, weird and surreal but the fact they’re about normal people means they seem to have resonated a lot with people and it really is a cracking feeling.