Laura Besley – Q&A

(Un)Natural Elements by Laura Besley was published by Beir Bua books on 21 October 2021.

Laura kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about (Un)Natural Elements

(Un)Natural Elements is a collection of micro fiction, which, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is really short fiction, usually under 300 words. This book is divided into nine sections – salt, sea, skin, sky, snow, soil, stars, steel and stone – and each section consists of five tiny tales. The shortest piece is ‘Soil – IV’ which is a haiku of thirteen words and the longest piece is around 150 words.

2. What inspired the collection?

Many of the stories that make up (Un)Natural Elements started out as tweet-length stories based on the #vss365 daily prompts. Having decided to put a collection together, I went through all of my previously published micro fiction, including the tweet-length stories, and to my delight saw patterns and themes emerge, which then fell into these groupings. I also wrote some new stories to complete the collection.

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

I don’t plan at all. I thought it was because I write short fiction, but I wrote the first draft of a novel this way too: just sit down every day and see where the words take me.

4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that still surprises you?

There are always surprises and I think for each book it’s different. For The Almost Mothers I thought I had a clear idea of a cover in mind, but the publisher sent me something completely different which I immediately loved. The day 100neHundred was published, I was so nervous I almost didn’t go to my own launch. And with (Un)Natural Elements I couldn’t believe how quickly it was published. Who knows what will happen with the next one?

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing and when I’m not thinking about writing, I’m reading (sometimes about writing!). A real treat for me is to go to the cinema and I absolutely love it.

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

I have absolutely no idea! Probably the biggest collection of short fiction that exists because then I would have lots of stories to read instead of just one.

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Something I don’t think I’ve ever been asked is: Do you think there is a point at which you become confident enough as a writer that you never doubt you can write another story?

I think the answer is no. I’ve been writing on and off for over ten years, more regularly over the last 2-3 years, and I often have doubts about my writing, especially if I’m going through a stage when everything is being declined. I think what you do gain from experience is learning that this is ‘normal’, that your writing ebbs and flows, as do your acceptances, and you have to trust yourself enough to know you need to be patient.

About the Book

This collection of 45 microfiction stories is separated into nine sections, featuring five different stories in each section.


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