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Wily Grant Stone Interviewed

I specifically remember the moment I started reading “The Salt Line,” by Grant Stone. I was immediately transported to a strange landscape whose mood carried me through to the end. Everything about the story evokes a connection with ancient cultures and sources of power that go back even before humanity walked the earth. I found myself thinking about the story long after I put it down. His Māori characters would not stop haunting me.

Grant is a writer to watch in coming years. I had the great honor to not only publish one of his stories, but to interview him as well. Here are his responses. You’ll have to imagine the Kiwi accent yourself. 🙂 But, if you listen to his story, “The Salt Line,” you’ll hear New Zealander Tim Jones reading it, accent and all, for Wily Writers.

What made you become a writer?

I’ve always loved reading. I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I spent hours as a kid hacking out Conan pastiches on a manual typewriter and drawing maps of unknown lands. So I don’t think anything made me become a writer. I was born that way.

What is your next big goal, as a writer, and how are you working toward it?

Until now I’ve only written short stories. This year I’ll be tackling a novel for the first time. I’m immersing myself in research at the moment. At the same time I’m trying to write as many short stories as I can. I figure if I can get them out of my head it’s going to give me more room in my head for the novel. Which probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but does seem to be working for me.

What’s the one thing you want people to know about your story in Night-Mantled?

The first part of the story came to me at an ANZAC day ceremony a few years ago at Stockade Hill, Howick — just round the corner from my house. It’s a fairly steep hill with a war memorial at the top. Some WWII veterans laid wreaths then walked back down the hill. People were packed on both sides of the path and as the veterans passed, the applause was deafening. Kiwis aren’t given to many outward signs of patriotism, but that day I had tears in my eyes.

The path walked in “The Salt Line” exists in the Abel Tasman National Park in Nelson. I’ve traveled all over the world. It’s still the most beautiful place I’ve seen.

When and how do you write?

I’ve got a very busy day job and three small kids. I’m learning to write in small bites, whenever I can find the time. You can get 250 words out in ten minutes. Sometimes that’s enough.

I write on both Windows and Linux, generally with a basic text editor — Notepad ++ and gedit work well for me. For longer work, I’ve found yWriter to be very useful. I use Dropbox to make sure all my work is backed up to various other computers.

What’s it like where you live?

I’m in a suburb in the south-east of Auckland. It’s hilly, green, and the beach is only a few minutes away. It’s not a bad place to be.

What do you think about the trend toward multimedia storytelling?

My daily commute is about an hour, so I’m a huge fan of audio fiction podcasts (the police tend to frown on reading in the car). I’d recommend StarShipSofa, Escape Pod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the New Yorker fiction podcast.

Which authors have influenced your writing the most?

Stephen King was a huge influence when I was younger. I’m still learning from him. Michael Moorcock showed me there are absolutely no limits to what you can imagine. Richard Price showed me the miracles you can perform with dialog. And I’m still in awe of Raymond Carver.

Writers spend long hours alone. Does this bother you, and how do you overcome it, if so?

It really doesn’t bother me. I’ve always been a bit of a hermit and I’m happy with my own company. When the writing’s flowing, I get lost in the story, and time disappears.

From start to finish, do you have a process you follow when writing a new story?

No. Sometimes I plan out a structure, sometimes I just start writing. Sometimes I just start at the beginning, sometimes I just throw scenes in at random and figure out the details later. The story I’m writing at the moment I started with the last scene and I’m working my way backwards. The only rule I have is to make sure the words get written down. Everything else is details.

Grant Stone’s fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Semaphore and Prima Storia. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand. He has been known to blog on occasion.

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