Last week I posted part 1 of my interview with anthologist, Tony Bradman. But there is more to Tony than anthologies. He is also an accomplished writer with dozen of books to his credit. Today, Tony is back at Literary Clutter answering my questions about writing.
You are a writer as well as an anthologist. Do you ever include your own stories in the anthologies you put together?
I did once or twice early on, but haven’t for a long time. It’s partly to do with being busy, partly because I thought it just looked bad, almost as if the editor had created the anthology just so he could publish himself, and partly out of a belief that it’s good to have plenty of variety and offer opportunities to others.
What do you prefer — working on your own writing, or working with other authors on their writing for an anthology?
I’m a writer first and foremost, and one of those who doesn’t talk about enjoyment – I find the whole process of writing very tough, an endless struggle with self-doubt and intractable material, words and plots that just won’t do what you tell them to! Although when it all comes together it’s brilliant, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had moments of real joy when a particular line or paragraph or chapter or even whole story works well and I know it. Working on anthologies is much easier. I like editing other people’s stuff, and have also edited some novels in recent years – I’m thinking of doing that on a rather more professional basis this year. I also think I’ve learned enormous amounts from editing other people’s work – a lot of editors know when a story isn’t working, but it’s knowing why and how to fix it that’s important! I sometimes feel like one of the mechanics I used to have to rely on to fix our old bangers – ‘Sorry, mate, I think your big end’s gone and your transmission is shot. You’ll have to get a new plot entirely…’
As an author, you have written a wide variety of material, from picture books to novels to non-fiction. Do you have a favourite type of writing?
I like writing anything that kids like reading. But recently I’ve been feeling that it would be good to write some poetry again – it was my first love and I published a couple of collections of poetry in the 1980s. And at the other extreme I’ve just written a long Viking fantasy novel, which has given me a taste for working on an epic scale. As we say over here in south London – ‘Huh, what is he like?’
Your latest books, the Happy Ever After series from Orchard Books, look at what happens to certain fairytale characters after their fairytale is over. I particularly loved Mr Bear Gets Alarmed, in which Mr Bear is left somewhat paranoid about break-ins after the whole Goldilocks incident. They must have been fun to write. Can you tell us a little about how these books came about?
I had the idea years and years ago, maybe as far back as the mid-1990s. I just always wondered what had happened to some of the characters in famous fairy tales. I started with Mr Wolf – I mean, what if he had a family he needed to feed? Three little cubs who would starve if he didn’t bring home the bacon? And it all just flowed from there. I’m really pleased you like Mr Bear Gets Alarmed as the central character is definitely a portrait of myself; and I also have a soft spot for The Three Little Pigs Go Camping (more autobiography).
What’s next for Tony Bradman?
More of the same, really – there are a number of possible projects bubbling under at the moment. But I’m also hoping to work a bit less! We’ll see…
My thanks to Tony Bradman for stopping by and answering my questions. For those readers who have young kids, I’d highly recommend the Happily Ever After series — my seven-year-old daughter loves them.
Tune in next time for a post about lists. Lists? ‘What sort of lists?’ I hear you ask. Lists of books, of course!
Catch ya later, George