I’m a writer from Purley, South London, and I’m currently enrolled on the Literary Practice PhD at the University of Warwick. My fiction tends to preoccupy itself with themes of alienation, repression, and the self-deceiving or unconsciously conflicted protagonist. I’m especially interested in the representation of madness and aberrant states in literature; indeed, my PhD thesis examines this very topic. Outside of writing, I enjoy watching football and combat sports, and I’m an avid gym-goer. I’m now slightly worried that I’m giving off Patrick Bateman vibes. Oh well. I was shortlisted for the Creative Future Writers’ Award 2021 (under an alias) and my short story “The Podcast” has been published by several outlets. “Rivals” is my first dabble in speculative/sci-fi-ish fiction. I’m sure it won’t be my last.
What inspired you to write ‘Rivals’ (Issue 1)?
I enjoy writing stories in which the protagonist is in some way blind to their own flaws, and blind to the way in which their warped perception of the world is damaging both to themselves and to the people around them. These protagonists tend to be insecure, or jealous, or resentful, or self-destructive. Often they are all of these things at once. I’m especially interested in how these feelings might manifest in — and wreak havoc upon — a relationship between two people who supposedly love each other. This is essentially what’s going on in “Rivals”, except the whole dynamic, I hope, is amplified by the speculative technological elements of the story. Anyone who has ever been, or who has wanted to be, in a romantic relationship will be familiar with the feeling of inadequacy. It might only be a fleeting sensation; it might sustain a horrid permanence. Regardless, there’s this pernicious and mostly repressed notion that one is falling short of their significant other’s ‘ideal’. It is this phenomenon that inspired my story. In “Rivals”, Sebastian uses new technology to put his suspicions to the test. In doing so, he is forced to confront his own blindness.
What inspired you to write ‘If We Share a Pyre’ (Issue 2)?
I wanted to write a story in which three characters – who all love each other, in their own warped, inadequate ways – are confined to an unforgiving environment. I also wanted to incorporate a fantasy element that in some way draws attention to and accentuates the overarching theme of desire, or, more specifically, excessive desire, that runs through the story. What ensued was the ‘Vollycot’. I hoped that by throwing these elements together, and letting the story unfold naturally, that I would be left with an effective tragic story.
Could you give us an insight into your writing process?
I’m currently studying for a PhD in Literary Practice, so I’m lucky enough to be able to dedicate a great deal of time to writing. I tend to write first thing in the morning, and, more recently, last thing at night as well. This is pretty cool, as it means that writing heavily structures my day, and there’s never too much time before I’m back to whatever story I’m working on.
What do you consider to be the most enjoyable or important aspect of science fiction or fantasy, and why?
I mostly write realist stuff, so I’m a little tentative and unsure of myself whenever writing, or indeed talking about, sci-fi and fantasy. I enjoy being able to add a small, fantastical element to an otherwise realistic story, as a means of further exploring or accentuating whatever conflict is already brewing. In that sense, the incorporation of fantastical elements gives me license to present everyday dramas in a new and unusual way.