Calum Kerr: Short Story Writer & Litro Alumna

Calum Kerr

Calum Kerr is a Litro alumna. Since being published in Litro, he has gone on to found National Flash Fiction Day, his own publishing house, Gumbo Press, as well as many other writing projects.

What have you been up to since your publication in Litro?

My story, “The Spark of Inspiration“, was published in Litro #103: Anti-Love. It was written as part of a project to write 31 stories in January 2011. It was written on the 6th, sent off on the 9th, and accepted on the 14th. This was a huge boost to my confidence and my project. I completed the stories at the end of the month and then self-published them as a collection entitled 31 which has sold, well, enough copies to make a small profit.

After that, I started to take on other projects—starting a small publishing house called Gumbo Press in April, starting a project to write a flash fiction every day for a year in May (now over 310 stories and counting…) and then launching the idea of National Flash Fiction Day in October. This last project now has Arts Council funding and promises to be a hugely exciting series of events and publications on and around 16 May 2012.

As a result of all this activity I have managed to get many more stories published, including a whole edition of Radio 4’s iPM programme dedicated to them on Christmas Eve and November’s flash365 stories being picked up for publication by Salt Publishing in May 2012. However, throughout this, and in the various workshops and readings I have done in the past year, I keep returning to “The Spark of Inspiration”. It’s still one of my favourites to read out loud, gets a great reaction from an audience, and has a special place for me because it was the first publication at the start of this journey. I owe Litro a huge amount for accepting that story and giving me the encouragement to try to achieve my dreams. Thanks Litro!

What is your earliest childhood memory?
I don’t remember. Though building a fort out of sofa cushions in the space under the stairs in our lounge is probably about right.

What makes you happy?
My family and my pets. Good company, good food and ale, a really good book. Finishing writing a story and thinking, “Yes! Nailed it!”

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
About age 12. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a lot to answer for.

What are you reading at the moment?
The Killings at Badger’s Drift by Caroline Graham – a Midsomer Murders book. This is because I am teaching a course in Crime Fiction.

What advice would you give to a first time writer?
Keep going. The only way to get better is to keep writing. And if you submit a story and it gets rejected, try again. If you submit a story and it gets accepted, try again.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. Mmmmmmmm…

How do you relax?
Relax? What’s that again? Oh, watching TV probably. Something interesting but that doesn’t require too much thought. QI [Quite Interesting] or an American TV series.

What is your favourite book?
Depends on the day. Today I’m going to say The Crow Road by Iain Banks. Just wonderful.

Which author is underrated or deserves to be better-known?
Jeremy Dyson. He’s known as one of TV’s The League of Gentlemen, but his short stories are just exquisite.

What’s the worst job you’ve had?
Temping as a filing clerk. All the bending and twisting actually made me hurt.

What is the most important thing life has taught you?
Don’t be frightened of doing the things you want to do.

What’s next?
Finishing off flash365 (55 stories left out of 365), getting a full collection published (talks in process, watch this space), making National Flash-Fiction Day so amazing that it happens every year, to write/publish a novel, and to get a full-time lecturing job. Oh, and whatever else occurs…

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