A week late, but better late than never?

Hello everyone! My name is Kirsty Mackay and I am a writer, or at least I’m trying to be and I’m hoping this course will kick me into being one. I was supposed to post this last week, however there was unfortunately a bit of a technological snafu so you are getting this a wee bit late.

I write almost exclusively fantasy and science fiction, plus elements of game writing which frequently blend both into a strange and terrifying muddle. Almost all of my characters are women or non-binary, I love writing characters that would be, in more traditional media, ignored, villainised or “fridged”.* I think I write so many characters that usually fall between the cracks of modern media as a way of fighting back. Plus it’s much harder to fall into old clichés when you are actively writing against those clichés. Though sometimes I like to pick up clichés, steal them and give them a makeover. You know, give the bossy mother a war axe and send her after the ravening horde that’s ruining her vegetable patch, or make the nervous schoolgirl secretly a witch with terrifying powers or make the cheerful and pink best friend of the goth girl a vampire who doesn’t take kindly to people being mean to her BFF. Turning people’s expectations around on them is fun, though my friends have started to pick up on my evil smirk being a bit of a hint, so I might have to dial it back a wee bit!

I think that love of twisting people’s expectations partly comes from my love of Sir Terry Pratchett’s books. I adore those books, luckily there are over forty of them so I don’t have to worry about running out any time soon and I’m holding the last few in reserve for days in the future when I really need a good book with plenty of fantastic characters, humour and wonderful world building.

I’ve also been writing for games a lot recently, Dungeons & Dragons especially, as I’ve bullied a few of my friends into playing. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, it has all the best bits of fantasy writing, gambling and dramatic improv. Though I might be a bit biased as I spent four hours last week leading some adventurers through a cave system, a very dangerous cave system it turns out as it was filled with Helmed Horrors and fungus that was both violet and violent. I’m hoping to post a better and more neatly written version of the adventure on the Dungeons Master’s Guild website. Once up there other people can download and play it themselves.

Anyway, I’m sure that’s all you need to know about me for now. Once I get a few more things up on the web I might come back and update this page with links to where you can find them, but I need to actually get things written for that to happen! Well fingers crossed and may your pens never run out and your brains never get the dreaded writer’s block,

Kirsty Mackay.

 

 

* “Fridged” refers to the cliché of killing off a usually female love interest to create DRAMA and ANGST in the usually male main characters. It comes from a Green Lantern comic where a female character was killed off screen and left for the main character to find in his fridge.

An Introduction to Poppy: ‘…my literary heart lies with women.’

Hello everyone, I’m Poppy. I’m the one in class with the long blonde hair who is always clutching my purple diary to keep up with my schedule. I never wanted to become predictable with my reading but looking back at the books I am most interested in, there is a strong running theme. Women. I’m a complete sucker for a novel with a strong female lead or a mousy lady who is downtrodden by a patriarchal society who rises above it to empowerment or even a woman going about her daily business. This is not to say that I do not also enjoy reading about men, some of my favourite work is by men, with male leads. It’s just that my literary heart lies with women.

I’m currently doing something I hate which is reading books simultaneously. I’m reading last year’s Man Booker International Prize winner, The Vegetarian: A Novel by Han Kang. This is the hilarious story of a man from South Korea whose usually boring wife decides to become a vegetarian (She’s actually vegan but I won’t be pedantic). I’m also reading Kate Tempest’s debut novel, The Bricks that Built the Houses, though I’m reading it painfully slowly, trying to adapt to the slower pace in contrast to her poetry. Alongside these novels, I have just started Angela Readman’s book of short stories, Don’t Try This at Home. Published by & Other Stories, the lovely mustard, jackalope* printed cover is what drew me in and the first line of the blurb was irresistible: ‘A girl repeatedly chops her boyfriend in half but, while her ‘other half’ multiplies, she is still not satisfied.’

My literary influences, to those who know me, may be slightly boring as I rarely shut up about them. Firstly we have the fraud** that is James Frey, I don’t care if his work is fictional or not, his writing style is right up my alley. Secondly we have Steig Larsson, a true feminist ally. I can’t have anything but admiration for a man who wrote a trilogy (intending to write ten whole novels), exposing disgusting misogynists, portraying off-kilter sexual and romantic relationships completely without judgment and celebrating the weird and wondrous creation which is Lisbeth Salander. Next there is Miranda July whose short stories and novel left me feeling completely inadequate as a writer; if I could create a character with half of the intrigue of one of July’s, I would be a happy little writer. Marilyn French is the next on my list, The Women’s Room cemented my views and made me eternally grateful for the women who have fought, even if quietly, for women to be where we are today, even if we have further to go. Finally there is Sylvia Plath because, of course.

I’m running closer to the word count so I’ll leave this here. I hope you’ll get to know me over the year as more than the blonde haired lass with the purple diary who keeps banging on about women.

*I later read that these are a creation by one of the characters where he puts antlers onto stuffed rabbits.

** Frey claimed that A Million Little Pieces was autobiographical but it was found that a lot, if not all of it was fiction. (Click here for more info)