Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Shiny 5 with Ben Payne

1. What's your favourite kind of story to read?

My favourite stories are about people. They move me, or make me think about my own life or life in general. They challenge me. They make me feel less alone.

They have some aspect of life in them which glimmers and slips through my eye into my brain and makes me think "Oh yeah, that's right... that’s how life is..."

The best stories make you feel more alive for having read them...

2. Do you prefer character or plot driven stories?

I prefer character driven stories. I think that "why" people do things is a lot more interesting than "how", and that short stories tend to reflect that. The plot of a story tends to deal with how things happened, the character stuff tends to look into why the characters acted the way they did, and how the events affected them. The how stuff is far from irrelevant, of course, but it's the "why" that interests me the most.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

3. Would you rather be stranded on a desert island or on a space station

Would I be alone on the space station? Cos if not, then that one, definitely...

If I had to be alone, I think I'd prefer the desert island... less claustrophobic, and at least I could befriend a jaguar or something. It could fetch my tea and we could have interesting conversations over coconuts.

4. What do you like about YA over other subgenres?

YA tends to say, "Let's skip the bull. Let's get to the point."

I can think of a few subgenres that could do with heeding that advice.

There's less room for pretension... I don't think YA audiences are impressed by tricks... they just want to get into the guts of the story, into the guts of the characters, into the depths of our internal selves.

I think YA also appeals to me because it isn't afraid to say that how we feel and how we think *matters*... I think a lot of authors aimed at older readers become almost embarrassed by emotion... they want to hide it underneath guns or magic battles or whatever... YA authors need to get into the raw emotion because that's what their audience demands... teenagers, you see, (and select adult readers) are not yet dead inside:)

5. What are you looking for in stories submitted to Shiny?

I'm not gonna repeat what I've already said, but I'll try to sum it up.

I want stories that make me laugh, stories that grip me and hold me in my seat.

I want stories that smash my heart with a brick.

I want stories that undo my sense of self and make me reconfigure the way I think about everything I think.

I want prose that makes reading something I enjoy.

I want characters I am interested in and/or care about.

I want stories that make me feel that reading them was the best way I could have spent that twenty or so minutes of my life.

...and stories with talking birds. I like talking birds.


Shiny said...

No f***ing talking birds, Payne!


PS: I may make an exception to my "no talking animals" rule for jaguars...

Ben said...

What about a flying jaguar?

Or a bird with a jaguar's head?

Excuse me, I have to get back to my genetic laboratory...

Anonymous said...

I'm with the no talking animals at all. Whatsoever.

Authors never get the accents right.


Ben Payne said...

(aspiring authors out there take note... if your talking animal piece is rejected by Shiny, then I am *totally* the good guy! Blame the other two!)