Writers on Lockdown: Chris Beckett

Chris Beckett is an Arthur C Clarke award winning science fiction author. He’s published six (soon to be seven) novels and dozens of short stories, often focusing on ‘inner’ as opposed to ‘outer’ space. I caught up with him to chat about isolation, metaphysics, and tribalism in modern society.


Hi Chris, welcome to Writers on Lockdown! So, how are you faring in these strange times? Is isolation a help or a hindrance to your writing process?

I’ve been having difficulty moving my writing forward this last couple of months, but this often happens – I simply dry up and can’t seem to write anything – and it may have nothing to do with the lockdown. However I do think my ability to concentrate (never brilliant to be honest) is worse than usual.  

When the real world is stranger and more engrossing than usual – and I am finding it engrossing – it is perhaps harder to focus on imagined worlds? 

In my life generally, I’d say I am finding the lockdown more interesting than distressing. I’m used to spending a lot of time by myself at home, and in some ways the lockdown is providing a stimulus for me to find ways of keeping more in touch with some people than I usually would, which is nice.  

I have a little granddaughter – she is 13 months old – and I’m very sad not to be able to spend time with her, as the plan had been (until this happened) that I would be looking after her for one day a week.

I’ve heard from several writers that their creativity is at a low point. I wonder if being engrossed in new situations is all part of ‘refilling the well’ of inspiration. Do you think we’ll see a different kind of fiction emerge on the other side of this?

I think that’s exactly right about ‘refilling the well’. We have to stock up on life in order to have anything to write about.  And none of us have had many experiences which are completely comparable to this one. (In fact a lot of writers have had pretty quiet lives generally, I suspect). I’m sure new kinds of fiction will come out of this, but I really don’t know what. This virus has changed life for everyone, but in so many different ways.  

I wanted to talk in particular about your recent novel, Beneath the World, a Sea, which is full of strong, surreal imagery, questions of the unconscious and philosophy of mind. When so many science fiction writers are focused on future technology, what made you turn inwards and address the nature of consciousness?

Continue reading “Writers on Lockdown: Chris Beckett”

Writers on Lockdown: Ellinor Kall

Ellinor Kall is an explorer of the liminal, embodying the blend between fiction and non-fiction. The popularity of her short story The DreamCube Thread in our recent anthology sparked this conversation on isolation, automatic writing, and occult influences.


Hi Ellinor, welcome to Writers on Lockdown!

Thanks, it’s my pleasure!

So how are things over in Sweden, are you feeling as ‘locked down’ as us?

From what I gather you in the UK seem to have a stricter policy than us. There are restrictions on how many can gather in one place, on visiting the older and vulnerable groups and things like that. Many work from home if possible, but many people are still out and about.

Every spring Swedes go crazy when the sun returns after a long dark winter and people HAVE to gather at the temporary outdoor seatings that pop up outside the pubs – no virus can stop this annual sun-worshipping ritual. Maybe it’s a remnant of some stupid viking mentality: if we die in battle with the virus we’ll get to sit and drink beer in the sun on plastic chairs outside Valhalla.

Haha! Do you find isolation a help or a hindrance to your creative process?

I’m a rather introverted person, and before this I was already working from home at least one day a week. And when not working, well, I’m mostly staying at home, reading, writing, listening to music, watching films and playing games. So this “isolation” is normal for me.

When I’m working on something longer I need time, preferably over several days, to get into the right mindset, get into the world, arrange all the pieces before I continue writing. Any disturbance from the outside world and I have to start over again. My mind is kinda chaotic and wants to go off and do other things all the time. So I have to spend a lot of energy keeping focus until I get into flow. But once that happens it’s hyperfocus to the point I forget to eat.

Continue reading “Writers on Lockdown: Ellinor Kall”

Author Interview – Stephen Oram

 

Stephen Oram 4M - Copy

Stephen Oram is one of my favourite contemporary authors. His debut novel, Quantum Confessions, had a significant influence on me; in fact, it was the book that inspired me to start writing my own. His work primarily examines the way our society works, and how it could be affected by technological developments in the near-future. Stephen works closely with future thinkers and scientists, most notably as part of the European Human Brain Project, and extrapolates their research into accessible, thought-provoking narratives. There is often a dystopian feel there, a warning perhaps, which is all the more poignant once you realise how close to reality some of the ideas really are. Recently, I was lucky enough to be selected to share some of my flash fiction at an event he curates for Virtual Futures, and he kindly agreed to let me interview him for the Orchid’s Lantern blog. I hope you enjoy reading his well-considered answers as much as I did. Continue reading “Author Interview – Stephen Oram”

A Chaotic Mind

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My notebook has notebooks inside it!

A chaotic notebook has unfortunately led to a chaotic mind, and last week I had to take some time out from my writing projects to put everything into some semblance of order. I could really do with one of those meta-grids I imagined in Bottled Up… Anyway, I have now devised a set of symbols to help me find things more easily in my journals without losing the spontaneity of mixing up inspiring quotes with research, plotting, prose, and general thoughts about life. I have lists, spreadsheets and trackers; and a (slightly) less cluttered piece of consciousness.

So, as you know, Fragments of Perception has been released into the world. A big thank you to everyone who has bought it so far! I do have a favour to ask: if you have read the book, would you consider posting a short review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? It would mean a lot to me. Alternatively, if you are a book blogger, perhaps you would write a review here on WordPress?

The road to indie publishing has been interesting and challenging: I have loved every minute of it. I know more than ever that this is the path I wish to take, and am excited to now be working on the next book. Right now I’m busy researching subjects as far-ranging as the mid-Atlantic ridge, Greek mythology, and VR therapy. I’m also writing for an anthology, and throwing around some ideas for a collaborative project. All of this inevitably steals from what used to be blogging time, but the truth is I need to keep writing flash fiction to release those smaller, short-term creative echoes. It may be a juggling act, but I fully intend to keep posting new content and I won’t keep you hanging for the next instalment of The Holly King’s Apprentice much longer!

One more thing: this week I will be doing an interview about Fragments of Perception for an online author’s site, and I thought it might be fun to do one here too. If anyone has any questions for me about the stories, process, forthcoming work or even me as an author, please pop them in the comments or email me at orchidslantern@gmail.com and, providing there is enough interest, I will compile them into a special post in the next week or so.

Thanks everyone!

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Fragments of Perception and Other Stories is available in paperback and ebook now! For a synopsis and purchasing options, please visit my Books page.

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