Claire King


Archive for June, 2010

Notes from an ex-Twitterphobe

Posted on: June 27th, 2010 by Claire - 9 Comments

Not too long ago I was a Twitter-phobe. Then my good friend Martha Williams said to me ‘No, really, there are some cool writer people on Twitter – agents, publishers, writers and more writers. Loads of writers’
‘Ooh,’ I thought, since I live in the arse end of nowhere and nary a writers group for miles. And I signed up. Claire King was taken. I became @ckingwriter. That was some months ago. Now near to 700 people know me as @ckingwriter. All (but 3) people I have never met.
I’m glad I jumped in because there are some fabulous people out there twittering all sorts of interesting things about writing: the craft, the exertion, the route to publication, the tenacity, the need to laugh at ourselves and yet take ourselves seriously and so on.

I’m not too caught up in the rage for thousands of followers. In any case, if I build it (the regular flow of best selling novels, for example) then I’m sure they will come. However I have come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people that I follow on Twitter. They both fall into under the heading of writers (for everything else there is linked in, facebook oh yes and actual meat space). Here they are:

1) Peers – people who write. Struggling, successful or just zen, but in any case willing to strike up a conversation and offer a bit of mutual support. A network of like minded souls. Just like real life, you give a little, you get a little.

2) People who would never follow my tweets in a million years but who tweet a stream of useful literary awesomeness. Thanks, you know who you are. Actually you are not reading this, but still…

This is how I justify the few minutes a day I spend twittering when maybe I should be writing, or taking more showers.

Interviewing Myself.

Posted on: June 9th, 2010 by Claire - 11 Comments

A metaview with Claire King is to appear on the fabulous fiction magazine Metazen in July.

A metaview, strictly, means I interview myself. However I’d love you to tell me what I could ask myself that might be interesting to you, the reader.

So, what do you want to know?

Go on: Do me


Posted on: June 7th, 2010 by Claire - 4 Comments

I’ll tell you a story, About Jack a Nory, And now my story’s begun…

As a girl I loved Jackanory* The storytellers held me enthralled. These days my children are just as entranced. Storytellers, and the tales they tell, draw us out of our world and into another. I have always wanted to be a storyteller.

So, now I ask you to please excuse my virtual backflips today. The shortlist for the Bristol Short Story Prize 2010 has been announced and one of my stories, ‘Wine At Breakfast’, is on it! Before I go off at a over-excited tangent, I want to re-iterate congratulations to the other longlisted writers. Getting to the top 40 out of almost 1500 entries is bloody brilliant. That longlist was my first major competition recognition and, as my Gran would say, I was chuffed to little mint balls.

All of that chuffedness made me wonder: what is it about telling stories, stories that people respond to, that rings my bell…and the bells of the thousands, millions of other of writers out there, pitching and rolling in the sea of prose?

Their need to write was so great they scratched at rocks with needles.

We humans are crazy-thirsty for storytelling. Storytellers are passionate and creative – we tell our stories out loud, we sing them, write them down, paint them, act them out, whatever it takes to capture an audience and call up their emotions. Entire industries are built around storytelling in one form or another. But behind that armies of amateurs (from the French ‘to love’) persist in writing, painting, acting, singing, for little or no financial payback. What makes us do it?

For me it’s the tiny shift I can effect in others – as a girl I loved having my stories published in the school magazine. I would hang around watching faces – any reaction was a payoff – feasting on readers’ emotions. It is thrilling that you can make people angry, sad, disgusted, joyous, amused, through well chosen words.

But storytelling is not just about getting people to feel something. Human culture has been rooted in its practical uses since the very origin of language. Through entertainment, stories have taught moral codes and problem solving, taught us our history and hinted at our possible futures. Stories tell us, ‘You are not alone. You are not the first and you will not be the last’. We still tell these stories to our children, at dinner parties, at seminars, in bars. Business or personal, fact or fiction, stories endure after the cold facts are long forgotten.

My love is writing, which holds a special place in storytelling; the advent of writing marks the (official) start of history. Since then, our stories have been passed down over millennia, via the first stone tablets, paper and ink and now digital media. As technology advances, the way we tell our story and the stories themselves morph and grow together. These days we can tell a story to those who live on the other side of the planet, who sleep while we are awake. We publish e-books, update our statuses, we twitter little bits of flash out into the ether. Are our stories becoming more sophisticated, more diverse or more diluted? One thing is for sure, stories are dynamic – they grow and evolve. Over time, they are interpreted in new ways, elaborated and changed to stay relevant. Stories are born of influences we may or may not be able to pin down, but then, just like children, we launch them into the world and they live their own lives. Scary, but rewarding.

That’s the other reason I’m so excited by the BSSP shortlisting – there is a possibility that next year my story could be chosen by a Bristol school for adaptation by pupils, along with other stories published in BSSP anthologies. Please cross your fingers for me, my chuffedness would be great. Also for fellow Twitterers Jonathan PinnockValerie O’Riordan and Clare Wallace.

How about you? Are you a storyteller? What rings your bell?


*Jackanory – a BBC children’s TV series

Post Script: It’s not just me. My four year-old daughter recently self-published her own e-book: you can read it exclusively, here – it’s free.

Amélie (author). It is a book about a cat.

Once upon a time, in spring, there was a cat.

(Illustration – author’s own)

De De Der (sound effect) The cat was in the fire.

The end: Vets.