Smoking With Tom Saunders

Read the Story September 15, 2005
story art

Love this story. That smell they can’t describe on their mother—so amazingly evocative. The whole story’s so visual and sensual. Like a painting. Do stories come to you in pictures?

I suppose they do. I’ve never really thought about that, but it’s true that I can visualise everything in my stories very clearly. I try to make them as filmic as possible. I like the way modern films are cut, one sharp scene following the next, the storytelling very vivid and focused.

Outer Space. Excellent title. What else is out there?

In space? A lot of frozen astronaut crap, wrappers from Russian candy bars, flying saucers on 14 day – 14 planet tours.

Do kids ever really know their parents?

It’s hard to say you know your partner or your friends, let alone your parents. Parenting requires a certain distance; love and authority do not always go together. It appears to be very difficult to let the authority go when the parenting is over. I’ve heard people say that their parents are good friends, but, although I loved my parents very much and miss them, I couldn’t say they were my friends. And when it comes to sex, I don’t think any child wants think of their parents feeling those feelings. It’s quite sad in a way, denying them their humanity.

How did the MA in Creative Writing affect your writing and/or life?

It changed my life completely. I was a musician selling guitars until I went back to school. The MA at UEA is especially good because no one tells you how to write and you get to hang out with other aspiring writers every day, discuss writing, laugh, drink and eat together, generally think of yourself as a writer, take your craft seriously (but not solemnly). Thinking of yourself as a writer is a very important step.

Talk to us about your short story collection Brother, What Strange Place Is This?

It’s a collection of stories bringing together work I’ve done over the last 20 years. One of the stories in the book I wrote while doing the MA back in 1986. I’ve tried to keep the stories as varied as possible. Most of them are long, but there are several flashes. I really hope people will give me a chance and buy it. I can’t promise anything, but I trust they won’t be disappointed. I’m completely in other people’s hands.

About the Author:

Tom Saunders is British and he writes short stories and poetry. He has an MA in Creative writing from the University of East Anglia. His tutors there were Angela Carter and Sir Malcolm Bradbury. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon was writer in residence at the time. In 1995 he was an award winner in the Ian St James International Short Story Competition. His work has been published in print and on the Net. His short story collection Brother, What Strange Place is This? is available on both sides of the Atlantic.