Last month, I re-launched my Ordinary People interview series by catching up with retired headtacher Julia Skinner from Julia’s place. Julia is also the founder of the the 100WC project, is a weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16. To read more about Julia, and find out more about the Ordinary People series, head back to last month’s interview.
This month I interviewed fellow blogger and fantastic short story writer, Petra Kidd. I first ‘met’ Petra via twitter, when she mentioned that it was possible to download a kindle app for free to your mobile rather than buying a kindle to read e-books on the go. I had no idea. I promptly downloaded said app and thanked her for the advice. She then suggested that I might enjoy her short story e-book, The Eight of Swords, which was the perfect length to read during a morning commute. Clever marketing Petra. It worked. I downloaded the Eight of Swords and read most of it on my way to work one morning, becoming so involved in Jayne’s dilemma that I almost missed my stop! When The Putsi, its sequel, came out, I immediately downloaded this too, excited to find out what happened to Jayne 18 years later. More recently, I have been hooked on Petra’s first blog novel, Before I was born onto land… I was a Fish, which she posts on her blog in weekly installments. Once again Petra has created wonderful characters in Mira, Daisy and co., who immediately draw you into their world.
Petra lives in Norfolk and when she’s not writing she is running her own small business. Her latest short story e-book, Revenge Double, which comprises two stories with the revenge theme, is out now on Amazon.
As I said, I first discovered your writing by way of the Eight of Swords, your first e-book. What was the inspiration behind this book and its sequel, The Putsi?
The Eight of Swords was very loosely based on a true story where an immigration officer came home find gypsies had invaded her house and pretty much wrecked it. The story niggled at me for about six months before I finally sat down to write it, then the characters came into my head as if they really existed and it all came very naturally. I absolutely loved writing The Eight of Swords, putting Jayne in such a dilemma and watching how she reacted. Lots of people said it made them question how they would react in the same situation, which is great. To make people think more deeply than just enjoying a story, to me, is real success. Also, I think it is good to learn about other cultures and not just make assumptions about them in their entirety based on a few media reports.
I have to admit I did get a little nagged to provide a sequel. I wasn’t sure but when I started writing The Putsi, again it flowed naturally. When people say characters become like friends it’s very true and it can be hard to let them go. A bout of Pleurisy left me housebound and The Putsi became a great distraction, even if I was dying on my feet trying to get it done! It’s not often I get so much uninterrupted writing time so I made the most of it.
Before I was born onto land… I was a fish is another original idea. Do you believe in reincarnation?
I don’t believe we necessarily get reincarnated as other creatures as in Mira’s story but I do think the human spirit goes on and evolves. I can’t believe that we go through all the challenges in this life for nothing. I like Paulo Coelho’s theory or philosophy that new doors open for us and the spirit goes on towards enlightenment.
Before I was born throws up an interesting idea, what if we could remember what went before, in such detail that it affects us in this life? Some people experience déjà vu and under hypnosis there are those who have talked about past lives so it could be true that we have lived before in different guises. I think the leap from another creature to human might be too great a one but who knows? Reincarnation is something that fascinates me and will no doubt crop up from time to time in my stories.
What former lives do you think you might have had?
A Clairvoyant once told me I had been an Indian in the Lunape tribe, some of who apparently have blonde hair. According to her I was a man who had six children. I don’t have any in this life; perhaps I got too exhausted by them in that life!
As much as I love the idea of once having been a Lunape I did take the suggestion with a pinch of salt. Having said that, I’d love to visit Delaware one day to meet them and see if I do feel any connection…
All of your books are self-published e-books. What are your thoughts on the self-publishing versus traditional publishing debate?
I self-published my e-books because I’m impatient. I wanted feedback from readers and I knew that if I went the traditional route it would take a very long time to reach that stage. The whole self-publishing phenomenon came just at the right time for me. Also, I think it depends on the book. I would still consider taking the traditional publishing route but I do like the freedom self-publishing offers. It’s a tricky one because both have advantages and disadvantages, you just have to decide what’s right for you.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of writing a short story e-book?
Write your story, show it to friends or acquaintances who you know will be honest with you, get it proofread/edited and make sure you have the best cover you can have, which usually means using a professional designer. I treat my short story e-books as seriously as I would a full-length novel. I published with Amazon and Smashwords because they have such a wide reach and slick systems.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
We already know that you love to write, are there any other ways in which you like to create?
I love photography, sometimes I put my pictures on my Facebook page, and recently I started sketching again.
What is it that you like about sketching?
I sketch people and I suppose in a way it is akin to writing, seeking out the character and depicting him or her as you see them from your own unique viewpoint. People fascinate me more than almost anything else, well apart from outer-space…
Tell us a secret (or something surprising about yourself)
When I was a child I had an imaginary friend called Bert, he was a builder who also flew helicopters. He was so real to me my mum even wrote a story about him where he had to tap on the window one night to prove his existence! My family used to think it very funny when I disappeared off down the garden to ‘help Bert’ wearing my ‘Pork Pie Hat’ as they called it. I remember very clearly the day I killed Bert off. He was on a mountain road and his car crashed. His death was as real to me as his life. I must have reached an age where I felt I couldn’t believe in him anymore. Luckily I never let go of my imagination.
Thanks taking part Petra! I hope you enjoyed answering these questions as much as I enjoyed learning more about you.