The Fluffy Unicorns Drive-by: Peter M. Ball

Peter M. Ball is a Clarion South survivor (i.e. member of the Borg Collective) from 2007. He is the writer responsible for Horn, the novella that ruined fluffy white unicorns for everybody (thankfully!). Its follow-up, Bleed, follows the further misadventures of Miriam Aster as she tries, generally very unsuccessfully, to avoid entanglement with the urban fey that populate her world.

His stories have appeared, well, everywhere. He is represented by a spokesbear, which means he should probably get a real agent very soon, and he is plagued by cats who fail to understand that they are lower on the food chain than he is. Here he uses the opportunity to procrastinate by answering questions.

1. Complete this sentence: Stalin may have been a bastard, but he …
… always seems to be damn jolly in photographs. I think it’s the combination of his moustache and cheeks – all you need to do is slap a white beard on him and he’d be the world’s scariest Santa Claus. And given this is the guy who ordered the Great Purge, I really wouldn’t want to be on Santa Stalin’s naughty list.

2. How do you generally react to crits?
I actually feel quite guilty after critiques of my work, largely because I’ve been blessed with a circle of friends who are enormously good at finding weaknesses in my work and saying thank-you never seems like an adequate response to the time and care they’ve taken.

3. What are your writing fetishes, i.e. what can’t you write without?
I’ve got a bunch of slightly off-kilter habits when it comes to writing: I talk to the stuffed bear that serves as my manager and spokescritter, I drink coffee in quantities that have been known to frighten visiting writers, and I’ll frequently dance around the study for plot (poorly) when I get stuck on a story. I don’t know that any of them would classify as fetishes though, since I can and have written without them in the past.

The stuff that really stops me producing words tends to be psychological hang-ups related to the fact that I need to write as part of my income these days: I’ll spend hours staring at an overdue phone bill while I fret about the fact that I haven’t sold a story lately, or I’ll get stuck on a story without realising it and drop into an internal monologue that’s all Oh god, I suck and will never be able to write again. There are many, many days I wish I were smarter about such things, but I’ve come to accept that they’re part of how I write and started figuring out ways to work around them.

4. I hate being a writer when …
 … people ask me what I do for a living. There’s rarely any good direction for the conversation to go once you tell people you’re a writer, especially if the person who asked doesn’t read. I admit that history may have given me a slight bias on this point – I’ve had a series of unfortunate experiences that eventuated from admitting to being a writer. Some of them involve six-hour bus rides and a clash with a particularly irritable police officer who took my career choice as a personal insult and started searching for reasons to arrest me on the spot.

Beyond that, there’s not much I dislike about being a writer. It’s pretty much the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do, and occasionally people give me money to make up bad things about unicorns.

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or Danishes?
Danishes for breakfast, donuts with an afternoon coffee (and they usually are donuts when I have them, being lazy and prone to purchasing at American chains that migrated to Australia with their spelling intact).

Of course, both choices are inferior to a good cupcake. 

And he blogs here.

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