Hi Bee, thanks for being interviewed! First easy question... Where did you grow up?
I was an army child so I grew up in quite a few places! I lived in two different places in England, in Germany and Holland, and then settling in Scotland, but not in that order. There was a lot of moving about which was good, especially when I had often failed with being hundred percent accepted, and at not being bullied by the general school population.
What was it like being an army kid?
It was fantastic being an army kid, you got to see a few places in the world and there was always a sense of safety in my childhood and I look back on it all fondly now, I do miss the lifestyle; you were actually quite well protected, and the only forces that tended to be an issue were those beyond the camp gates. However, one of the things about it that was particularly bad was that I didn’t really have friends for all that long. When you moved, you tended to fall out of touch with each other, and it’s rare that you were able to get back in contact.
Was being an army kid and moving around so much an influence on your writing today?
Yes, I would say that my military upbringing does still influence my writing today, primarily when it comes to awareness of war and remembrance and I write a different piece related to remembrance and war every year. Sometimes it’s a poem, sometimes it’s a speech or an article.
Can you remember writing down your very first words?
I wish I could! I know that I was a late bloomer when it came to reading though, a while behind the rest of the class, but when I got going I stormed ahead of them in terms of the level of literature I was reading. My first story I remember writing was for a class project in Primary 6 (second to last year of primary school). I was taken into the Headmistresses office and given an award sticker, and she told me that I would be the next J K Rowling! I’ve not quite met that expectation... yet!
Did you go to University?
I went to Abertay University in Dundee and I studied Sociology for a year (first year of a degree) before I realised that it wasn’t really for me. I loved the sociology, but what we were mostly studying was actually psychology and I wasn’t all that interested in that side of things. When I was at University, I started a small writing society and that was good for the short time that it ran, although it kind of fell a little by the wayside when I became involved in the drama society. Got to be honest though... there was an awful lot of drinking at uni and I didn’t have the best of times near the end of it with increased mental health issues, but my time there really let me discover more about myself in terms of my sexuality.
What do you do for a living?
Sadly, writing it is not yet my full time job; I am a trainee careers adviser Stage 1 with Skills Development Scotland, the government funded organisation for careers information and advice, and guidance and skills development in Scotland (per the name). I am enjoying it, and there’s a large amount of personal satisfaction from the job.
Tell me about your first writing engagement.
My first writing engagement was actually in high school and the scholastics book project. A friend of mine was involved in it and they were looking for student submissions and he recommended I put something in. I put in an untitled piece regarding a terrorist being led to their public execution. Apparently, my writing level was beyond my years at the time (about 16 ish). My father read it and told me it was a bit like The Green Mile, which at that time I had never seen. Incidentally, I have seen the movie many times now and read the book twice. I love Stephen King.
What really inspires you to write now?
To be honest, I can be inspired by pretty much anything. I’m not joking! One of the things that really inspires me though is just looking at people as they pass me, or I pass them, and wondering about their individual lives; What is happening to them? What are they experiencing? What are their joys? What are their sorrows?
And then what is the process of transforming that initial moment of inspiration, or idea, into actual words on paper?
I literally just write and, if I’m being honest, I write what I either see or hear in my head. When it comes to my poetry, I see a series of snapshots, like looking at a few photographs from an album. When it comes to short stories or plays, anything longer than a poem, I see it like a film in my head and I just write what I see and hear. I just write it as I see it and then come back and tweak things later.
Do you have a particular writing place or location?
No, I don’t really have anywhere in particular that I go to; I literally write anywhere and everywhere, and with anything - I’ve written with eyeliner and I’ve written on paper receipts. If I’m wanting to sit down and write though, not just being inspired randomly. I’ll go to a nice coffee shop or I’ll join my fiancée down in the country visiting his family. The country tends to be nice to go to for writing, quite removed from the hustle and bustle of the world. You actually have the time to just knuckle down.
Tell me about the projects you are currently working on.
My current project is producing and directing my first full length play; The Divine Comedy Show. I am also finishing writing a series of short plays called The Waiting Room, and I’m about to continue writing another full-length play called A Right To Live, A Right To Die. The Divine Comedy Show is adapted from my first book that I wrote when I was twelve, and subsequently lost all the material when I was about fourteen. The Waiting Room was just a quirky idea that I came up with. As for A Right To Live, A Right To Die, this is a reaction to a social issue that I feel very passionately about. I just had to write about it, I couldn’t keep quiet anymore.
Wow, that's a lot of projects. You also have plans for creative writing classes for women fleeing domestic abuse?
I was previously in an abusive relationship and I managed to get out of it and to try and re-build my life, just a better version of it. Writing was what helped me get through it (that, and reading Batman comics, primarily involving the Joker or written by Grant Morrison). Writing allowed me to channel some of the thoughts and feelings I had concerning the relationship and the abuse. It brought me some peace while I was healing, even just for a few moments. I want this to be something that all women fleeing that terrible situation can experience. It’s a difficult journey – healing - and everyone needs something to help them get through it. If I can introduce writing to them, and encourage them to express themselves through writing, I can help them to help themselves, which could prove invaluable. If this is successful, I want to then work with someone to try bring classes to men who also have suffered from abuse. I am an open person when it comes to my experiences and people find it easy to open up to me too, and the amount of men who tell me in confidence that they have experienced abuse is actually higher than the number of women who speak to me about it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m just going to keep on telling human stories and writing what comes into my head. I am wanting to get more of my work out there, write some more plays and challenge some social and life issues. I am wanting to do more in the way of classes, to help young people in the LGBT community and (as mentioned above) those fleeing from domestic abuse to learn a new, lifelong skill and passion that could see them through all the difficulties in their life. I’m wanting to share with others, learn from others, teach others and encourage them. We all need encouragement and there are so many writers out there who are isolated and solitary, who don’t receive the encouragement they rightly should.
Lastly... name your THREE most favourite books and why?
Now this, THIS is the difficult part. Making me choose just three is almost quite cruel Robin.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. This book was the one that sparked my fascination with Japanese culture and the traditional, secular world of the Geisha. The book is so easy to read and it is a wonderful, exotic story with plenty of cultural references throughout. I have since went on to read a book from Mineko Iwasaki whose book I believe was part of Arthur’s inspiration.
The Green Mile by Stephen King. As I mentioned earlier, I love Stephen King’s writing and what I have read of his books and short stories. The Green Mile is brilliantly written and is so compelling that I nearly missed my train stop and left my lunch bag on the train coming back from work. The film is thoroughly enjoyable and a good tribute to the book, but the bad death of Edward Delacroix just cannot be transferred into a visual media without the sheer horror being removed from it. He truly is a Master of the written word.
My final one that I am going to talk about is Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It was quite a racy book - all things considered - and raised some very good points and was an immersive experience. Gregory really expanded on the world of Oz and I loved the social and political issues that were raised throughout, the subjugation of races and species, social class structure amongst many other things. It is a brilliant read and I am still disappointed that I wasn’t allowed to do my Advanced Higher English dissertation on this book. Apparently, it isn’t considered to be of literary worth.
I lied... Lastly, lastly .. what does writing MEAN to you?
Writing means everything to me. Without writing, I wouldn’t be the person that I am. It isn’t just a creative art, it isn’t just a way to express myself and my thoughts and feelings, it is literally the song of my soul. I couldn’t live without my writing.
For a little bit more info on Bee, and to contact her, CLICK HERE.