Her name kept coming up. Her short stories appeared here and there in litmags I read. You could say I became a fan. Then this year she published her first novel. And so I asked Lucy Ribchester, author of The Hourglass Factory, if she’d submit to a few questions for Circa. (One of the perks of being an editor is that you have an excuse to reach out to a stranger and ask them questions you’d really like to know the answers to.) She generously agreed.
The Hourglass Factory is a thriller set in Edwardian London. It is a world of suffragettes, music halls, and corset fetishists. And then there’s the mysterious disappearance of a tightly-laced trapeze artist.
Here is what Lucy had to say when I asked her about the difference between writing short stories and writing a novel:
I think because I grew up reading novels – particularly genre fiction novels – but only began reading short stories as an adult (aside from fairy tales which I never remember reading as a child, just miraculously becoming aware of at some point) it seemed more natural to try writing a novel first. I’m not saying writing a novel is easy – far from it. But trying to structure a short story with zero breathing room to establish characters, and having to bring out the kernel or climax of the story in such a short space of time, is murderous. That’s what I love about reading short stories but it’s also what makes them so bloody difficult to write. There have been (and continue to be) a lot of false starts. But luckily if you write a duff story that really isn’t salvageable, in the end you haven’t invested as much time in it as a novel. There has been a lot of trial and error though. And A LOT of reading other people’s stories, online, in anthologies and in single author collections. My favourite short story writers are Angela Carter, Ian Rankin, Anais Nin, Linda Cracknell and Sarah Hall, all for different reasons.
Click here for the rest of the interview with Lucy Ribchester.