Interview and Bio information

Karen Little trained as a dancer at London Contemporary Dance School, and as a sculptor at Camberwell School of Art, London. She has performed and exhibited internationally.                                                                                        She regularly reads her work at events and has been published in over thirty magazines and anthologies this year including Deep Water Literary Journal, Petals in the Pan Anthology and Southern Pacific Review.  She has won competitions for poetry, short stories, essays and flash fiction.

Interview with Karen Little

This is an article from an interview of author Karen Little by Luiz Diaz. It’s our goal at Eve Arroyo to promote the authors Eve edits for, favorites of Eve and Luiz, and our contest winners. Enjoy!

Karen Little has lived in Manchester, in the North of England for the past six years. She went there when her son started university. They lived in Southern Spain for the previous six years, and London before that.

She originally trained as a dancer, then as a sculptor. Both these professions involved her using notebooks and sketchbooks to record ideas for, and to commentate on, pieces of work, but she didn’t start writing as her main expression until she moved to Manchester in 2009.

Ms. Little is a poet and an author. She has had poems, short stories and flash fiction published in magazines and anthologies. Just this year she has been published in over thirty magazines and anthologies including Deep Water Literary Journal, Petals in the Pan Anthology and Southern Pacific Review.

She has just completed her first novella, Filled with Ghosts. It is a poetic-stream of consciousness book set in southern Spain, and the characters’ lives initially intertwine due to their close proximity in a small village, before a number of events and a death or two make it hard for them to escape each other. To some extent this attempt to escape on the one hand, and others attempting to prevent that escape on the other hand, is central to the book. The things that bind the characters are as strong as the need to escape.  The characters are given short chapters in each of the sections of the book to express their view of what is happening. Sometimes stories overlap, and it isn’t always easy to tell when something is merely in the mind of the characters, as for very different reasons, each of them has a tenuous grip on what might be called ‘reality.’

The idea for the book came from a ten minute play she wrote in a theatre workshop. The play was set in Spain, and the main character was a woman who thought she had found a guru who would understand her ‘mystical experiences.’ These experiences are what most people would consider psychotic episodes. The short play was a fictionalized account of a psychotic episode Ms. Little, unfortunately, experienced while living in Spain. Three of the characters in her book are developed from the characters in the play, and a version of the guru incident is seeded in the book.

When asked about the difficulties of writing in the stream of consciousness style she said, “The difficulty was to stop the characters all sounding like me, to give them different voices, because they are very different characters and have very different motivations for their behavior. This is where it might be said there is a disadvantage to initiating the writing process from stream of conscious recording. It took me some time to get to know the characters outside of myself, to get them to do things I wouldn’t approve of, and make them have attitudes that I don’t hold myself.”

Ms. Little’s creative process has always begun with a stream of conscious notation. She feels she has an easy access to her subconscious, and she wrote the first version of Filled with Ghosts by hand into an A4 book. She wrote 38,000 words in a very short period of time. The real work came with the shaping of the story into a structure. She initially was concerned with the dates of the events and said it read somewhat like a journal. She then decided who should present the events, and the story was then told from each character’s point of view who had the strongest say in the matter.

Regarding writing itself she had this to say, “Well most of us in our part of the world are fortunate enough to write throughout our lives, and read a great deal throughout our lives. I have done a lot of things in my life, experienced a lot, and I think I have stories to tell, as well as to imagine. As a dancer my expression was very abstract, painting and sculpture moved nearer to the concrete, and I consider that within my writing I peel away more of the layers of the onion to get to the rawest yet explicit version of my expression. I think over the years I have moved towards wanting to reveal more of my mind, my stories and my imagination, and to be less obscure, though even my prose is described by others as poetic, and filled with imagery.”

Currently Ms. Little is writing a novel. It may end up being a novella because she seems to still carry on the less is more approach acquired at art school. I asked about the plot for her work in progress and she had this to say, “I would find it difficult to describe the plot at this stage, because it is evolving during the writing process. At this point I am mostly interested in my characters, what they have to say, and I am looking forward to them surprising me with their actions. I am also writing poetry. I write every day, but quite which aspects of my writing end up in a poem, a short story or my new book is negotiable, because they tend to overlap. I enjoy reading my work at events. And always read my work out loud, because I find it helps remove the clunky words and phrasing.”

She writes every day, and it is vital part of her day. She still paints, but it has recently felt more like a breath of fresh air than the driving force it was. She has a busy life, with commitments on her time and energy, but she believes we should live and then write or paint or whatever we choose, rather than live in order to write or paint.

She would like to make enough money to survive from writing, and just found she can get essays and short stores, as well as poetry, published. She is hoping to publish her novella Filled with Ghosts, and then the ten that follow.

Ms. Little feels Eve’s editing helped by “shining a torch onto her writing.” She explains, “It is impossible to know what you have actually said and what you think you have said after umpteen revisions. Some of Eve’s comments were much needed confidence boosting, others highlighted obscure phrasing in my manuscript, right through to pointing out a hole in the plot.”

Ms. Little has had poems edited on occasion, but didn’t find it useful. She thinks it’s vital to have a professional eye cast over the work. “We cannot be objective. That is a truism.”

Eve always sends a letter along with her edit and Ms. Little “found it inspiring and confidence building.” She also expressed a desire to use part of the letter as a blurb when her book is published.

Karen, thank you so much for you time.  I believe you are an exceptional author and have a great deal of life experience to share. This was very interesting to me and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

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