Short stories n’ that: on writing and hings

Ah first startit writin wee stories aboot two an a hawf year ago. Writin wis the furst hobby urr witever that ah’d tried an felt straight away, 'Hawd oan a minute, this is class. How’d ah no try this sooner?'. As soon as ah finished writin mah furst wee story, aboot a moth flyin intae this guy’s heid an tryin tae take oer his mind, ah knew this wis wit ah wanted tae dae fur a joab. So ah jist kept gawn, writin wan short story ivry week an stickin thum up oanline fur folk tae read. Ah built up a wee platform oan Twitter thanks tae mah mah daft stories. Ah wis writin aboot people an places that urnae normally representit in books, or if they wurr, it wis normally done in a wey that wis takin the mickey, makin oot as if mah bit ae the city wis full ae crime, bevvy an drug abuse an jist general horribleness. Ah jist wanted tae show the lighter side ae Glesga an huv a laugh. Show that it’s no aw doom an gloom.

Efter ah hud a wee story published in 404 Ink’s magazine, ah asked thum if they’d huv a look at the rest ae mah stuff. They did an thankfully they liked thum an then the next hing ah knew ah wis through in Edinburgh signing mah first book deal, madness considerin ah’d only been writin fur aboot a year at the time.

Since mah first book, Hings, came oot in 2017, mah life hus jist been a hunner miles an oor an ah’ve nae idea where the last year hus went. Ah’ve been a full-time writer noo fur the last year efter ah gave up mah joab workin in a sports shoap. Workin in retail is defo wan ae the best joabs a writer cin huv cause ah wis jist surrounded by hunners ae people aw day every day that I could listen tae an watch (no in a dodgy wey). This gave me a good ear fur the wey people talk, an noo ahm obsessed wi tryin ae replicate people’s speech patterns, dialects an unique wee tics in mah writin.

Mah second book, HWFG, came oot at the tail end ae last year an ah went wee bit darker wae the hings ah wis writin aboot and made mah stories a bit weirder annaw. Ah love writin aboot class an it’s probably the hing that comes up the maist in mah writin. Ah’m fascinated wi this mad made-up hing an how if affects everybody’s lifes in the wee-est weys. Ah use the idea ae a middle class person meetin a workin class person in a weird place a lot cause it creates so many opportunities fur funny hings tae happen an as well as that it lets me get a bit deeper an dae a bit ae social commentary.

Wan ae the best hings that’s happened since mah books huv came oot is defo the amount ae folk who say hings tae me like, "this is the first book ah’ve read since ah left school," ah love that, man. Mah books are daft, weird an surreal but the fact that thurr aboot normal people means they seem tae huv resonated a lot wi folk an it really is a crackin feelin.

English-language version:

I first started writing short stories about two and a half years ago. Writing was the first hobby or interest I’d tried and felt instantly like, 'This is absolutely brilliant? Why didn’t I try this sooner?'. As soon as I finished writing my first short story, about a month trying to take over a guy’s mind, I knew this was what I wanted to do for a living. So I just kept going, averaging a short story a week and putting them online for people on Twitter to read. I built up a wee following on there thanks to my stories. I was writing about people and places that weren’t normally found in literature, or if they were it was usually done in a derogatory way or painted my part of the city as a place full of crime, drink and drug abuse and general grimness. I just wanted to show the lighter side of Glasgow and have a bit of a laugh.

After I had a short story published in 404 Ink’s literary magazine, I asked them if they’d take a look at the rest of my stories. They did and thankfully they really liked them and the next thing I knew I was in Edinburgh signing my first book deal with them, having only been writing for about a year.

Since my first collection, Hings, was published, my life has been 100 miles an hour and I’ve no idea where the last couple of years have gone. I’ve been writing full-time for just over a year now after I gave up my job working in a sports shop. Working in retail is definitely one of the best jobs for a writer to have because I was just surrounded by people, all day, every day, that I could watch and listen to (in a non-weird way). This gave me a good ear for dialogue and I’m obsessed with replicating people’s speech patterns, dialects and unique tics in my writing.

My second book, HWFG, came out at the tail end of 2018 and I went a wee bit darker with my subject matter and made the stories a bit more surreal. I love writing about class and it’s probably the theme that pops up the most in my stories. I’m fascinated with this social construct and how it impacts all of our lives in even the smallest ways. I use the dynamic of a middle class person meeting a working class person in an unfamiliar environment a lot because it creates so many opportunities for humour as well as allowing me to do a bit of social commentary.

One of the best things that’s happened since my books came out is definitely the amount of people who say things to me like, "This is the first book I’ve read since school". I love that. My books are daft, weird and surreal but the fact they’re about normal people means they seem to have resonated a lot with people and it really is a cracking feeling.

HWFG (404Ink, £8.99, 9781912489107) by Chris McQueer is out now.