Hello everyone and welcome to June’s Author Interview! Every month I’ll be interviewing authors and creators about their newest works, their lives, and what influences them. This month I’m talking to myth-maker Georgina Bruce! Her debut collection This House of Wounds has a physical release this month (previously released digitally in March). Let’s see what she has to say!
Hello Georgina! I’m happy to have you on my blog today! Let’s start this interview with the ultimate icebreaker request: tell us a little bit about yourself! What made you want to be a writer?
Thanks for having me! I wanted to be a writer ever since I realized it was a thing that people could be. I loved reading from when I was very little, and thought that writers must be the best kind of people. So that was always my ambition. I had a somewhat troubled family background and when I was 17 I got kicked out of home and recruited into what is probably best described as a cult. I extricated myself from that and put myself through university in my twenties – I was working full time while also studying full time, which was fairly tough going but I graduated with a first class degree so it was worth it! Then I worked abroad for many years, teaching English in Okinawa, Cairo, Essaouira, Antalya, other places. I moved around a lot, eventually fleeing from London to escape a dangerous and violent man. I found myself broke, homeless, traumatized and in the middle of nowhere. And so I thought: I’ll just start writing. Because I really had nothing else at that point. Within a couple of years I’d sold my first short story and was getting commissions for screenplays and teaching gigs. Fifteen or so years later, I have a short story collection. As a path to becoming a writer, I wouldn’t recommend it! But hey, I’m here now.
Your debut collection released digitally earlier this year. I have it in my TBR pile and everyone I know that has read it has loved it. What can you tell me about This House of Wounds? What did the road to publication look like?
Mike Kelly reached out to me in 2017 to see if I had a collection. At the time I didn’t, but I thought if Undertow was interested, I better see about putting something together! The stories in THOW are selected from around ten years of writing, plus four new, previously unpublished pieces, so I guess it’s a pretty good snapshot of what I’ve been up to. Undertow are absolutely brilliant to work with and Mike and Carolyn did a lot to transform my random bunch of stories into a coherent collection. We were also very lucky to get a fantastic piece of art by Catrin Welz-Stein for the cover, showcased by Vince Haig’s genius design. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I do think it’s a pretty good reflection of what you’ll find inside! It’s fairly bloody, twisted and weird.
I saw on your site that you won the British Fantasy Award for your short story White Rabbit (published in Black Static) in 2017. What an accomplishment! Can you tell us about that experience?
Thank you! When it was originally published in Black Static, Vince Haig did the most spectacular illustrations for it, which I think was a big part of why people noticed the story. It was fantastic to be nominated but I convinced myself I wouldn’t win. I was practicing my “I’m so happy for the winner” face for the awards ceremony! I’ll never forget the cheer that went up when my name was called out. It was a huge surprise and a very emotional moment. Winning that award opened a lot of doors for me in my career. I have a lot to be grateful for.
A lot of young writers I talk to get discouraged with the grind (sending stories out on submission, etc.) and the constant struggle that is the publishing world. Do you have any general advice for any writers looking to get published?
It’s not just young writers, that’s the first thing I’d say. I’m forty-seven. A lot of writers don’t get going until later in life – especially women, working class people in general. We don’t all have the time or money or the inner resources to devote to writing until we get a bit older. So the first thing I’d advise writers is not to be put off by the idea that they have to be published before they hit 30 or whatever. There are some incredibly talented young writers who are nonetheless very lucky and privileged to be getting published straight out of university or in their twenties. As an older writer, you may face more obstacles, but you also have a unique voice and wisdom that only comes with time. In general, I think all writers should cultivate resilience. You have to cope with failure, and then you have to cope with success (which is nearly as bad) and you have to keep writing through it all. It’s not easy. Get resilient.
Let’s talk about books for a moment. What’s in your To Be Read pile right now? Any books you’re looking forward to in the future?
I’ve just finished Rebecca Gransden’s ANEMOGRAM which I loved. It’s completely mesmerizing, frightening, and weird. I think she’s a writer that more people should be paying attention to. I’m reading Christina Henry’s latest, THE GIRL IN RED, which is an apocalyptic take on Little Red Riding Hood – absolutely masterful and very gripping. I’ve also just started THE WORST IS YET TO COME by S.P. Miskowski, and Nina Allan’s THE DOLLMAKER. I’m a huge fan of both those writers. I have a ridiculous number of books in my TBR pile that all look completely brilliant, but I’m especially looking forward to Sandra Newman’s THE HEAVENS. It sounds like my cup of tea.
A temporal oddity is sucking up your book collection and you can only save one book from your library! What do you grab!?
This question is traumatizing me! What temporal oddity? What’s it doing with my books? Is it taking them to the past or the future? How do I stop it? Okay, well in that case, I would probably save LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. A friend gave it to me for my birthday a few years ago and made me promise to read it. I’m sure it’s brilliant, but it’s flipping enormous! And it’s about horses? Or cowboys or something. I’d definitely read it if it was the only book left on my shelves, and it would keep me going for a little while, at least until I could defeat this temporal oddity and restore meaning to the universe.
Another incredible interview! Thank you Georgina! For some more exciting news… this month’s interview tips me over the double digits! I’ve included links to all the previous ones below. Every creator has answered every question intelligently. I’ve learned a lot about the craft and have grown my TBR exponentially. I’d like to thank every single one of them for their honesty and candor.