Monday, 24 August 2009

Quickfire Questions with... Elizabeth McKay



Elizabeth McKay lives in Ayrshire and has been writing for about twelve years. She works part-time as an admin assistant in a day centre for adults with learning disabilities and writes the rest of the time. As well as short stories she has also had a number of features published in magazines. She has several stories awaiting publication, mainly in Woman's Weekly and Fiction Feast.


My first sale was...
To "Best" in 1997. It was the first story I ever submitted to a magazine and I naively thought everything I sent out after that would be published. It was another five months before I made my next sale!

My family think my writing is...
A good thing although I expect they’re as surprised as I am that it’s taken off as well as it has.

The best/worst thing about writing short stories for magazines is...
The best thing for me is when someone says they’ve read one of my stories and enjoyed it (well, they would say that, wouldn’t they!) The worst thing is when people ask when I’m going to write a ‘proper book’ as if short story writing is second class. (And the scariest thing is how the market for magazine stories is shrinking at an incredibly fast rate.)

Long hand first or computer?
Either, depending on how much time I have. If I’m short of time I write long hand and transfer/edit onto my laptop later. If I’ve got more time and know exactly where the story’s going I’ll write straight onto the screen.

On completing a story I feel...
Relieved and a great deal of satisfaction.

When I run out of ideas I...
Panic! Then I just try and relax by doing something completely different. It doesn’t do any good trying to force ideas.

Ideas come to me when...
I’m reading, watching TV, eavesdropping - I mean accidentally overhearing other people’s conversations. Song titles can be a good source of inspiration.

My biggest tip for new women’s mag writers would be...
To familiarise themselves with the magazines and write according to their specifications. Also to be professional at all times.

3 authors – dead or alive I’d like to invite to dinner would be:
Harper Lee because I think To Kill A Mockingbird is the best book ever written! Maeve Binchy because she’s been a huge inspiration to me and John Grisham because I love his books. I heard him being interviewed on Radio 4 a few years ago and he sounded lovely!

Favourite writing outfit?
Whatever I happen to be wearing at the time.

Favourite writing snack?
Anything covered in chocolate.

Daily Mail or Guardian?
Am I allowed to say the (Glasgow) Herald!

Corrie or Eastenders?
Definitely Corrie!

14 comments:

Geraldine Ryan said...

A good read, Elizabeth! I loved your story "Girl Talk" available in this coming Wednesday's Woman's Weekly.

Caroline R said...

Great answers, Elizabeth! Ooh, that must be very annoying to have people asking if you're going to write a 'proper book.'

Samantha Tonge said...

Yes, i greatly admire Maeve Binchy.

Anything covered in chocolate? You fit the SW site very well:)

Great answers.

Geraldine Ryan said...

Hm! Do they do chocolate covered olives, Sam? (The one non-chocolate eater on SW, I think!) Yes, the old "When are you going to write a proper book, remark! Dontcha just love it? And you must have had the "Anybody can write one of those stories in the women's mags", too!

Samantha Tonge said...

What a ghastly thought, Jem! i don't think even i could eat choc-covered olives!

I overdid olives on my recent hols and can't eat them now. Choc seems to be the one food i can eat to excess and still enjoy.

Um sorry, Elizabeth, going off at a tangent - we're not really obsessed with the cocoa bean on here, honestly:)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

LOL, Elizabeth - I love the story of your 'naivety' in expecting every story to be published! But five months?! That's amazingly GOOD!
Susiex

Elizabeth McKay said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. It's nice here but I think I'll pass on the olives if that's okay - even the chocolate covered ones. Yes Geri, I've had that comment as well as 'Oh I could do that if I only had the time.'

Julie P said...

EEUGHHHH! chocolate covered olives. I'll have the chocolate but you can keep the olives. Hey, I think you've invented a new diet aid, Geraldine. All I have to do is think of olives dipped in chocolate when the chocolate munchies strike and it will put me off! I thank you!

I've only ever had one short story published in a woman's mag and that was accepted in April (published this June) so there's hope for me yet, Elizabeth, if it took you five months - It's about that time delay for me too. Did it put you off submitting stories when you got rejected after your initial acceptance?

Julie xx

Elizabeth McKay said...

Well done Julie, you're right on track. No, the rejections didn't put me off submitting but it was very disheartening every time the postman delivered yet another big brown envelope. I'm not sure if I would have kept going if it hadn't been for that first story.

Lydia said...

I'm a non-choco too unless it's 80% dark stuff. Just want to say I really enjoy your stories Elizabeth. I had my first 3 stories accepted and then absolutely everything afterwards rejected for 8 months! It's a real rollercoaster ride isn't it? Amd I'm not sure it alters that much. I've had a run of acceptances recenttly but just returned from holiday to 6 rejections!!

Teresa Ashby said...

It was lovely to read this, Elizabeth!
I loved your story Mirror Mirror in the WWFS - it was very moving, the kind of story I won't forget and it reached me on so many levels. Beautiful story!

Elizabeth Mckay said...

Yes, Lydia, a rollercoaster is a good description. Six rejections in one go is a bit painful, but then again you now have six 'remarketing opportunities' to kick-start you after your holiday. Thanks for your kind words about 'Mirror Mirror' Teresa.

Paula Williams said...

Can I echo Teresa's comments about Mirror, Mirror, Elizabeth? It was a lovely story and one to direct people to when they say that womag fiction is all 'slushy romance. I loved it - and really, really wished I'd written it!

Elizabeth McKay said...

Thank you Paula, that's a lovely compliment.