Doesn’t Shakespeare have a way with words? I tell you who else does too – the authors who have contributed to the Not Quite Shakespeare anthology of British themed stories from Dreamspinner Press [cover and links to follow].
Don’t forget – I will put the names of all commenters to all of the interviews into a hat and pick a winner to receive a copy of the anthology in the format of their choice. Comment to win, that’s the ticket!
Today’s interviewee is Megan Reddaway.
Hello, Megan. Have you always lived in the UK?
Mostly. I’ve spent a year travelling and a year living in France. I remember arriving back at Heathrow airport after my travelling year and thinking how low and closed-in the sky over England seemed, like a blanket of cotton wool over my head, but at the same time knowing I was home and not wanting to live anywhere else.
In how many counties have you lived? Cosmopolitan or rural?
I’ve lived in six counties, all in south-east or central England – in three market towns as a child and three cities as an adult, one of them London. I’m happiest living in small to medium sized cities.
Is there any place that is a must-see for any visitor to the UK?
It may sound bizarre since I hated growing up in one, but I think it’s the small towns that are truly representative of the UK – in fact, I think small towns are the most interesting places to stay wherever you go in the world. You pick up on the attitudes and everyday life of the nation at a much deeper level than if you were visiting a big city or going round castles, museums and beaches.
This might be because I’m a writer – I’m more interested in observing people than sights. But I do also love the medieval buildings of Oxford where I live now and the landscape of the west coast of Scotland, among other places. Then almost every village has houses and gardens that are just lovely. To look at, I mean. Don’t make me live in a village. Please.
What inspired you to write your story for the anthology? Could you tell me a little about it?
Ha. I was hoping you’d ask that. My story, Wrong Number, is about a guy who phones his best friend – so he thinks – for sympathy about his lack of a sex life, telling him exactly what he’d like to have some guy do to him, and finds to his horror he’s called one of his bosses by mistake.
So, the inspiration. I live in an area of Oxford with a big student population. The house next door is always let to students and last year a group of gay guys moved in, which was interesting for an M/M romance writer – especially when one of them decided to make an explicit phone call from outside on the front step one night.
In my street all the houses are joined together and their front door is right beside the window of my living room, where I was sitting quietly reading. It was dark and my curtains were drawn so we couldn’t see each other, but when he started telling another guy exactly what he wanted in very graphic terms, I could hear every word.
Some people might turn on the TV or move to another room, but a writer grabs a notebook 🙂
From there, I started thinking about what might have happened before and after such an explicit call. In my final story the situation and the characters are completely different – it’s set in London, they’re not students and I changed some of his words, but it all grew out of that real phone call.
Could you please tell me about your other work?
I’m a freelance non-fiction writer in ‘real life’. In the M/M genre, I don’t have much else finished and published yet, but there are a couple of free stories available from my website at http://meganreddaway.com
My own favourite is The Luck of the Irish, a paranormal M/M comedy about a guy who’s been cursed by a leprechaun.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have two novels at the first draft stage. The one closest to being finished is a contemporary M/M romance set in Oxford (but not in the University). The main character is a man in his 40s who’s lost his much older partner and now finds he’s unexpectedly attracted to a younger guy.
Not sure when it will be published. I seem to have to leave things, do something else and come back to rewrite or edit them.
Excerpt from ‘Wrong Number’, Megan’s contribution to Not Quite Shakespeare:
I’d had a few drinks, to be honest. I’d had a few drinks, and I got home, and the cramped little studio flat in Croydon where I lived looked exactly the same as when I went out. Of course that was a good thing, really, because if the place looked a lot different, it could only be due to a burglary, flood, fire, unannounced landlord visit, or similar disaster. But there’s something so depressing about coming home and finding everything the same. Especially when you’re simply longing for your flat to contain another living creature such as a boyfriend, or at least a cat.
My landlord didn’t allow cats, or I’d have had one. There was no clause forbidding boyfriends, but unfortunately you can’t just grab the cutest-looking stray man from the nearest gay bar, take him home, feed him twice a day, and expect him to love you for it. All I had was pictures, of both cats and men. It wasn’t the same.
So I decided to call my best friend, Gavin. I knew he’d be awake and alone, because I’d only said goodbye to him ten minutes ago outside East Croydon station. I sat on the edge of my bed and opened the address book on my phone.
“I need to get fucked,” I complained as soon as the call was answered. “I want to feel cock plunging into me. I want to worship a big warm dick. I want to lick it all over and get it all wet and rock hard then take it in my arse, take it in deep and get fucked so hard I’m screaming!”
Then what was supposed to happen was that Gavin would be like, “Oh petal, I know, isn’t it awful to have nothing but silicone to play with at the end of the night, where have all the gorgeous hunks gone?”
Instead there was a short silence, and a dry voice that was definitely not Gavin’s said, “Well, Connor, this is unexpected.”
For a moment I was paralysed. Then I pulled the phone away from my ear and stared at it. Where it should have said “Gavin,” it said “Gary Bayes.”
“Oh my God,” I breathed.