Maggie Drury is a Kent-based writer and artist – whose words and images have both been published in Confluence. Her prints are showcased in Issue 3, and her writing in Issue 4.
Tell us about your writing background…
My father told me stories, my mother read poetry to me. As a child I read books, comics, magazines, anything I could lay my hands on, and I wanted to write. In my teens I won the middle school essay competition (for essay read creative writing) and discovered a copy of Brave New World in the cupboard under the stairs. I wrote short stories, novels and radio plays and built up a fine collection of rejection slips. In 2004 I started writing and showcasing stage plays, initially in London and then in Whitstable for ‘She Writes’. In 2007 ‘Not Knowing Who We Are’ was performed at The Blue Elephant Theatre. Now I’m working on novels; I’ve two on the go and one niggling at me (that’s the one I’m really looking forward to starting).
Why do you write?
My head is full stories that I can’t ignore. I love the process of creating something and then trying to make it work. It’s not easy.
Where can people go to start?
Enroling on a course or a workshop is a good way to get started. I’m a great fan of courses. Otherwise grab a notebook and describe the smallest thing you can see. ‘ A tiny red spot on the desk. I don’t know if it’s blood or paint or biro. I examine it. I think about it. I discount biro because it’s years since I’ve had a red one that worked. I discount paint because I don’t paint anywhere upstairs. That leaves blood.’ It’s a start, not a great one but come tomorrow another sentence will be added and that may lead somewhere.
Do you think about the audience when you write?
I tend not to write with an audience/reader in mind but challenge myself to create another world to escape into for a few hours every day.
What I love about playwriting is handing a script to a director and then watching the actors bring it to life. Once I’ve written the script I don’t want to have anything else to do with it. With novel writing it’s difficult to get anyone to read more than a few pages, and with no actors and no director it’s all down to the writer.
What writers do you admire?
I don’t know how much I am or am not influenced but there are many writers I read and admire: Harold Pinter, Martin Crimp, Hans Fallada, Philip Roth, Shirley Jackson and Kate Atkinson, to name a few.
And do you have a favourite?
I don’t have a favourite writer. I get hooked on one for a while and then change my allegiance. I’m currently reading Liver by Will Self. I have read a lot of his work, the favourite so far is Umbrella.
What are you working on?
In the past I have written science fiction. The novel niggling at me is a psychological thriller … I think. Once I have the characters I allow them to lead the way. I’m not a great planner or plotter, probably why I’m never satisfied with what I write.
What was the first thing that you remember writing?
I remember handing a scrap of paper to my father. He looked at it, smile on his face, said, what’s this? A story I said. I don’t know how old I was, probably about seven?
Have you got anything coming up – in print or on stage?
I’ve contributed to Confluence magazine and Judicious Heretics but have nothing else coming up. If I can get a novel into shape I might enter it in a competition.
“He raised the lid of the cardboard box keeping one short edge fixed in a hinge-like
position; quick and easy to close should the contents decide to leap out and overwhelm him. He selected a family photo. In the front were his parents with his aunt and his uncle. He and his cousin stood behind, they were ten years old. In the photograph everything was grey: clothes, faces, trees, water, the rocks on which the grown-ups sat. Now, decades later, he was hoping to trigger more than a simple memory, truth perhaps?
They had no reason to venture beyond where they were likely to see the fish so they paddled where the water rarely splashed their knees. But the river was wide. It flowed fast over pebbles, jumping and darting like the tiddlers they were hoping to catch. Farther out towards the other side the water was known to be deep and dangerous, the sweep of the branches beckoned him; he’d always wanted to know what was over there. What if he went now – if he was able – would that dark secret place be as alluring as it was then?”
(Extract from ‘The Other Side of the River’, by Maggie Drury, Confluence 4)