Dan Micklethwaite

Once and Future, fiction, issue 39, June 15, 2017



Birthday? I will be thirty-one sometime in September.

 

When did you start writing? I think I wrote my first original story as a school project when I was 8, about an unusual family pet, and my output has been fairly steady since - albeit of wildly varying quality.

  

When and what and where did you first get published? My first very short, very abstract fiction publications were on a brilliant website called Ink, Sweat & Tears, in 2011. My first print publication was in BULL magazine, in 2012 - a story about a lumberjack who turns to photography as a counterpoint to the destructive nature of his work.   

 

What themes do you like to write about? I don't often set out with a specific central theme in mind, but I seem to return quite frequently to ideas of loneliness and isolation, art/invention as a means of both catharsis and connection, and the fear of obsolescence or the passing of a former way of life. I'm sure there are some more positive themes out there to explore, however, so perhaps I'll try them soon.

 

What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? There are too many to list here, but off the top of my head I would say 'The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break', by Steven Sherrill, as I think it is one of the definitive portraits of the alienation, but also the normalisation, of the 'other' within contemporary society. It's also beautifully written, in such a crisp, yet poetic, present-tense style, which has been very influential in the way I approach certain of my stories.

 

I'd have to say anything I've read by Cormac McCarthy has had a lasting impact on how I view prose fiction, and raised the bar quite significantly in terms of what I'd like to someday achieve. 'All the Pretty Horses', in particular, floored me.

 

I would also say 'Oryx and Crake' and 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood, as they're both expert examples of how to craft stories set in near-future societies, and make readers care about the scenarios and characters deeply, far beyond the intrigue of the initial concept.

 

As far as short stories go, beyond my regular diet of new fiction online, pretty much anything by Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick. Just because. Bradbury's 'The Veldt', for example, is one of those superbly, subtly atmospheric stories that most writers would love to write just one of, and yet he wrote hundreds. What I take away from both him and Dick is their fearlessness in terms of trying to make something out of every idea that they have; sometimes the more outlandish ideas don't quite work, or are too thinly stretched, or are just a bit rubbish, but then others turn out far, far better than the concept deserves. They've definitely pushed me to write more widely, and not get too comfortable and complacent in any one particular setting or style.        

 

Twitter - @Dan_M_writer


Biography

Dan Micklethwaite is an award-winning short-fiction writer and novelist, currently based in the north of England. His recent work has appeared in Unsung Stories, Flame Tree Publishing's 'Swords & Steam' anthology, Mother's Milk Books' 'The Forgotten and the Fantastical 3' anthology, and he won 1st prize in Words With Jam's Short Story Competition 2016. His debut novel, 'The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote', was shortlisted for the Guardian newspaper's Not the Booker Prize 2016.
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