Nothing beats discovering new creatives whether they’re a painter, a photographer, or a writer. What makes it even better is when you discover those creatives in your area. May I introduce you all to the lovely lady from Abertillery: Caitlin Cording.
Caitlin Cording wants to live in a world where love letters are always hadnwritten, ice cream vans come round in the winter, and watching funny cat videos online every day is a legal requirement. From the foot-swelling world of retail, to the back-aching world of call centres, Caitlin has worked a variety of jobs. She began her writing career by posting her work on Wattpad under a pseudonym she won’t even reveal to her wife. Now having had a number of short stories professionally published, and won first place in an international competition, she is working on her debut novel for young adults.
The short story that was brought to my attention was No Regrets.
No Regrets is a short story about a young man who meets a stranger in a hospital reception area, I don’t want to give anything away (I’m terrible at doing that) but the plot twist at the end was something I was not expecting. I found myself catching my breath, completely caught off guard. However once I read it over the second time, the clues were all there. The sentences are short and harsh but they set the scene perfectly. Your imagination runs wild with this gem of a story.
I asked Caitlin on her inspirations, as well as her past, her present and her future:
Rogues Portal (RP): Was there any inspiration at all when it came to writing No Regrets?
Caitlin Cording (CC): When I started researching organ donations for my upcoming novel I found a wealth of material I could use for short story themes. No Regrets, is one of three I’ve written recently. I guess when I’m fascinated by a topic, the ideas just don’t stop flowing!
RP: In your bio you mention working the 9-5 shift whilst writing, what was the most difficult part in becoming a writer and do you have advice for any creatives trying to free themselves from retail.
CC: When I discovered I could use writing as a means of escaping reality, I used every spare moment I had to do it! I’d write while stuck in traffic jams on the way to work, during lunch breaks, in the stock room and even in the staff loos!
To be a writer you must persevere. It has to be so important that you prioritise it above most other aspects of your life. I think it’s easy when you work in retail to forget your capabilities, your talents, your dreams—you have to make a conscious effort to never let that happen. Believe with all your heart that one day you’ll be doing the thing you love for a living and you will.
RP: How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader or do you write for yourself?
Readers quite often think they want sophisticated fairy tales—it’s the writers responsibility to ensure they don’t get that, at least not until the very end anyway. You also have to know your readers and your genre inside out to meet certain expectations. Oh, and remember, your characters don’t necessarily have to be likable but they do have to be relatable.
RP: What was an early experience where you learned language had power?
CC: In year 6 I memorized my class when I read aloud a short story I’d written. Something inexplicably magical happened in those moments—I’ll never forget it.
RP: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
CC: Not reading submission guidelines and not taking the time to read previous issues of anthologies and magazines before submitting.
I’d also say, not understanding the importance of listening to your beta readers and finding a good editor.
RP: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years time with your writing?
CC: My ultimate goal is to see my name on Waterstones’ bookshelves. I make sure to visit a store at least once a week to envision it!
RP: Who is your favourite under appreciated author/book?
CC: Oh my goodness, there are so many, but I have to give it to Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland.
RP: What other themes have you explored in your short stories and any themes you would like to explore?
CC: I always make sure to cover topics close to my own heart. Previously I’ve written about sexual abuse, mental illness, familial breakdowns and grief. I hope to cover themes such as homelessness, gang crime and homophobia. My debut novel explore themes around friendship, betrayal and poverty.