(Wednesday at the Clubhouse means an interview for your reading pleasure. Today I'm happy to present the incomparable and talented catephoenix, a writer with her own unique brand of quirkiness after my own heart. M.P.)
Since seeing her fiction first published in 1993, Catherine J. Gardner has written a lot of short fiction and sold it to various places such as Fantasy Magazine, Dead Souls anthology, Three Crow Press, Necrotic Tissue. Her chapbook The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon is now out from Bucket 'O' Guts Press. She lives in Liverpool, England with the Wolf Dude—and if you don’t know who he is, shame on you (his words, not Catherine’s).
Tell us a bit about yourself. What's life in England like?
Breezy. An inventive soul, positioned the blue office block where I morph into a phone-answering robot between a river and a dock on a narrow stretch of land. Some days I think the gods are trying to lift me up into the clouds to tell them stories, on other days, when I’m convinced my writing stinks worse than a drained dock, I’m certain they’re trying to blow me into the Mersey so that my words will go all soggy.
Your chapbook The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon has just been released. Could you share with us a bit about that?
Well first off we have the blurb…
It is important to show no signs of madness even when the world about you is clearly insane… Olive Lemon is determined to discover what lies beneath the polished veneer of her town. When the Mayor bans citizens from venturing into the grey streets of the neighbouring suburb, a tantalizing place of tattoo parlours and screams, Olive’s world begins to snap apart like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
We’ve gone into second printing, which would be more impressive if the first print run wasn’t 25 copies, but I’m stoked that we’ve sold that many and within the first ten days, I believe. I’ve gone a little bit into overdrive with promoting. I have prizes— jigsaw puzzles and a poster—and free bookmarks to give away. I’ve been advertising it anywhere I can and I have a lovely full page advert in the next issue of Arkham Tales. I’ve gone a little bit over the top but I don’t care, and I’d do it again.
You've written quite a few stories over the years. How do you approach short fiction as to creating a body of work? Is there a typical Cate Gardner story?
I like to think my stories are humorous, dark, and occasionally creepy. The stories I had published in the 1990s are very different to what I write today and if I could, I’d burn most of the old ones. In fact, I don’t even mention them on my website and they will be disappearing very soon from my blog (it’s a long, ugly list).
Out of all your short fiction, do you have a favorite story? If so, why does that one appeal to you the most?
Actually my favourite story is one that hasn’t sold, "Frog & The Mail Order Bride." Every time he comes back unwanted, I’m very disappointed, surprised, gobsmacked, and go into ‘is the world mad?’ mode. Okay, I may be over exaggerating, but I have a horrible feeling, I’m so close to the story now, I can’t see its faults. And why does it appeal to me the most, first off it’s a dark fairy tale (who doesn’t love those?) and second, it was the first story I was proud of after returning to writing short stories after a hiatus.
Is there a reoccurring theme that runs throughout your work that seems more important to you than any other? If so, why is it important?
I’m sitting here, scratching my head, trying to think if I have a reoccurring theme. I don’t think I do. Now, I need one. I like to write about odd folk, but then most characters are odd. I like splashes of colour. And I have a fair amount of dead folk populating my pages. Do they count?
Whose fiction do you enjoy the most that has influenced your own?
I flit between authors. I’d say I’ve been most influenced by Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. They inspired my want to write children’s books and I thank him for that, because writing for kids is so enjoyable.
Is there any type of speculative fiction you haven't explored yet that you'd like to in the future?
I’m very interested in steampunk (isn’t everyone?) and though I’ve dabbled at science fiction, I would like to explore it further. I have this most wonderful idea (most wonderful in the planning stage, when it gets to the work stage it will become this most tiresome/what were you thinking? idea) for a science fiction novel set in my home town, Liverpool, and featuring the famous (to Scousers) Liver Birds. I have a horrid feeling, I’ll be croaking about it on my death bed in several hundred years time. If I’m lucky, there’ll be a writer lurking nearby to pick up the torch (because electricity will be extinct by then).