Thursday, 31 January 2013

#justimagine Author Celia Coyne on Fusion and having the shoe on the other foot

Introducing Celia Coyne who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand and who is author of The Truest Black, which appears in the Fusion anthology. Celia comes with an impressive writing track record and CV. She has worked in publishing for 20 years, as a journalist and editor of non-fiction. In her fiction writing she says she enjoys exploring unusual themes and ideas. This is clearly apparent from the expertly woven tale that appears in Fusion where a vein of humour runs through a story that has a truly sinister undertone. 

Of being shortlisted in the Fantastic Books competition, Celia says, ‘It is always a pleasant surprise to be placed in a competition. You send off what you think is your best story, you hope that it is the right sort of thing that the publishers are after - and the rest is luck. There is always a bit of subjectivity involved in the whole writing game - so you can never be too confident.’

I wonder what someone with Celia’s experience looks for in a competition, what motivates her to enter? She tells me. ‘One of the things I look for in competitions is a chance to be 'placed' - and published. Competitions with just 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes are all well and good - but for me it's not so much about 'winning' but about people reading my work. I like to win, of course, but I reckon I'm hugely motivated by the chance to get my work out there so people can read it. I also like the set up with Fantastic Books - with the donation to charity. It is a great idea and I think that people will respond to it - I certainly did.’

Like the other authors, Celia sees it as definitely a positive to be published alongside established writers.

Everyone on the shortlist worked with the Fantastic Books editorial team to polish their stories for publication, but Celia’s day job is as a sub editor, so as she says, ‘The shoe was on the other foot!’

How did she find the process? ‘ The editing process by Fantastic Books was indeed helpful. Having a fresh, professional eye look at your work is essential for any writer - established or not. I think that this attention to detail ensures that any book published by Fantastic Books will be of a high standard. I've noticed that the editing process is sometimes overlooked by other publishers - and the quality of published works is diminished. Shockingly I've noticed it in the works of some very well known authors (not mentioning any names!) It is a symptom of the big publishing houses cutting corners and trying to save money but it is a false economy. I am comforted by the fact that there are still publishers like Fantastic Books who want to pursue excellence and do this with the tried and tested approach of carefully reading and then editing the work.’

I know that answer will get a smile of satisfaction from Dan and Gabi at Fantastic Books. They take great pride in looking after authors and their work.

What would Celia advise as reading matter to alleviate the boredom of a long journey? She says, ‘For a long-haul flight I'd recommend 'Fight Club' by Chuck Palahniuck. It is a fairly short book and beautifully written - very dark humour and many layered. I'd also recommend any short story collection by Ali Smith.’

Celia is currently working on a collection of short stories. She tells me, ‘You can find You Look Beautiful When You Smile online in Issue 7 of Penduline Press's magazine. This story kind of sums up what it is like living in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the 2011 earthquake. We are all trying to get back to being happy - but it's a journey. You can also find one of my stories, The Age of Aquarius, in issue 76 of Takahe magazine. And there is another one, Travelling Light, coming up in issue 78 (April 2013).

Celia has a website where she hopes to be able to showcase some of her work. She tells me that the site is still under construction, but I’m going to bookmark it anyway. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed The Truest Black, I don’t want to miss new works from this talented author.

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