25 February 2013

Introducing Icy Sedgwick

Icy and I are both new to Peevish Penman.  She interviewed me last week, and now it's my turn to ask her some questions.

1) What is the first book you remember reading as a child?  What is the first book that affected you deeply?
I remember reading the Puddle Lane books with my mother, where half of the text was more 'complex' for the parent to read, with the easier version below for the child, except I kept reading the passages for adults, but I remember reading an awful lot of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. Having said that, the first book that really affected me was Colin Dann's A Fox Cub Bold, from the Animals of Farthing Wood series. The ending upset me rather a lot and my mother came into my room to find me in floods of tears. Never read another one of that man's books after that.

2) How did you know that you wanted to become a writer?
It wasn't really something I made a conscious decision towards. Writing was just always something I'd done, and it never really occurred to me not to do it. I suppose I was sixteen when I really made an effort towards it and did a creative writing course at my college, and I've been doing it seriously since then.

3) How do you cope with writer's block?
This is going to sound arrogant but I don't really get it. Mostly because I find that if I get stuck with one project, I just start working on something else until I come up with a solution for the original problem. I don't think there is such a thing as writer's block - I think it's something we try to rationalise, when really it's just that point when you're too burned out to think of anything else. Take a break from writing, or writing that particular project, but your unconscious will still be working on it. Let them get on with it while you get on with something else.

4) I know that most of your writing publicly is fiction, but do you also write non fiction as well?  What are the biggest differences between the two styles for you?
I write academic work and the two are vastly different. Some people have tried to say that writing my PhD thesis is no different from writing a novel and it's utter nonsense. Of course it's different - if I write a novel, I'm making it up as I go along, but my thesis has to be based on evidence and research, etc. Academia and fiction are different disciplines - one requires the suspension of disbelief, and the creation of a world in which to immerse the reader, while the other is more about expanding the knowledge of the reader, and leading them through your thought process to explain your argument. 

5) How do you balance the world of social networking and promotion with the work of actually writing?
You just grab time where you can. I can do my social networking on my smartphone on the way to and from places, or on my lunchbreak etc., and then I can actually write when I have more time to sit down and work out an idea. To me, social networking is something you just always do, the same way you're always talking to people 'in real life', and writing is something I do when I'm sat on a train, or at my desk.

6) One sentence.  Tell me who Icy Sedgwick is.
She's an elaborate ruse!

7) What piece of writing are you the most proud of?
I'm torn between The Midas Box, which was the first short story I ever had published back in 2008, and The Guns of Retribution, which was the first novella I ever had published - and the first book I could hold in my hands that had my name on it. I'd had stories in published anthologies before, but there's something special about having a book with your name on it that is solely your work.

8) What will you bring to Peevish Penman?
Hopefully fun, japes, and a bit of Northern stoicism.

9) You are in a PhD program currently.  What is your goal after that is completed?
Eventually the plan is to lecture in Film Studies, and also to continue to write about the horror and fantasy genres. Unless I become bigger than Stephen King in the meantime, of course.

10) What is the most important piece of advice anyone has ever given you about writing?  What would you say to someone just starting out?
I've had a lot of advice and some of it is good for some people, some of it is good for others. All advice holds some value...it's just not always right for the person receiving it. Personally, I'd say that Lee Child's advice to treat writing like a job, so you just sit down and do it, has been the best for me - it strips away this mystical ethos around the writer needing the right conditions, and the aid of the Muse, to get the job done, and turns it into something practical. I'd probably offer the same to someone starting out...unless I just told them to listen to all advice, ignore what sounds wrong and try what sounds like it might work.

Thanks, Icy!


  1. Great interview. When I was doing my research project for my Masters, I absolutely struggled to switch back and forth between writing fiction and academic work. I think it's an impressive thing to manage.

  2. Welcome aboard Icy! This was a dense interview; lots to chew on. I love the Lee Child advice as well. Then I hate it. ;)