Chandler Leigh

I am a writer based in London, previously the West Midlands, pre-previously in New York City, and pre-pre-previously my mom’s house in New Jersey. I write SFF fiction, usually with a YA-slant. Graduate of the University of Warwick MA in Writing, Editor for Otherverse Magazine. I am left handed.

What inspired you to write ‘Mildew’?

Back when I was living in the West Midlands, I used to go walking through some paddocked fields used by the local farmers to graze animals and grow crops. The walking paths wound through planted rows of barley, corn, and yes, potato plants. One early morning while trodding through the plants, I noticed some fuzzy caterpillars crawling on the green leaves, which I initially mistook as particularly furry patches of mould. Now, I am a particularly squeamish person, so I avoided the creepy critters at all costs. But the bugs gave me an idea. What if the fuzzy caterpillars did not stay as the teeny, harmless things we know them as, but grew into much larger creatures? The details of the story which became ‘Mildew’ grew from this initial thought.

Could you give us an insight into your writing process?

I am a methodical sort of writer. I wake up early in the morning, brew a cup of tea, consult my pre-written list of daily goals, and write until two p.m., at which time I usually eat lunch and take a nap. Repeat this method for an afternoon session until about 4:30 p.m., and there’s a typical day of work. I try not to write on weekends. ‘Mildew’, however, broke all of these rules. I wrote the first draft on a Saturday in early summer, writing late into the night, just getting the ideas out in rough and frazzled paragraphs. I finished the piece a few weeks later, again on a Saturday, and working late into the night.

What do you consider to be the most enjoyable or important aspect of science fiction or fantasy, and why?

The most enjoyable aspect of science fiction and fantasy writing is, for me, disappearing into the worldbuilding of a particular piece. I’m rereading Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild right now, and am continually amazed by the rounded and complex worlds she presents in her works. In her essay “Positive Obsession”, she writes that she would make herself a universe within her writing notebooks, one that she could escape to and leave behind the (often much harsher) outside world. “There I could be anywhere but here,” she writes, “anytime but now, with any people but these.” I think this sums up my approach to a writing project nicely; I try to build a universe where the presented story just so happens to take place. My goal in any project is to give a tactile quality to a place which appears nowhere in the world but on paper, to make a reader feel like they’re breathing the same (sometimes Martian-dust ridden) air as the viewpoint character.