Author Interview

Wednesday, 08 April 2020.

Interview for the Yours2Read newsletter with Sharon Dormer, author of the following stories, amongst her other work posted to the platform:






Early Memories


Queenies last day





Thank you Sharon for agreeing to be interviewed for our newsletter. We’re very grateful for your time, and I’m sure your insights will be interesting and helpful to our authors and readers.

  • You write across several genres, with some being semi-autobiographical or reminiscences about childhood or the process of ageing such as ‘Early Memories’, and ‘Queenie’s last day’, others being creepy, scary stories such as ‘Polly put the kettle on’ and ‘Miss Muffet gets married’. You appear to have an eclectic approach, excelling in a range of genres.What inspired you to write these stories, and what would you say is your favourite genre, and why? Are you, or have you been, a member of a writers’ club? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these?
  • What inspires me? Well, Polly Put the Kettle on and Miss Muffet gets Married, are part of a series of stories that I am trying to put together under the name of Twisted Tales from the Nursery. They go with Mary Mary, and Georgie Porgie which are also on the site and are two of what I consider to be my best works. My Favorite genre is short stories that have a dark side, I suppose because they are the kind of thing I enjoy reading. I used to be part of a writing group, but although they can give one the impetus to write, often the feedback is shallow and people can be afraid to offend. To combat this I recently did a BA and then a MA in creative writing. Believe me I soon received some harsh critique which though difficult to take at first, acted to improve my writing and my approach to it.

  • What generally inspires you to write? Where do you get your ideas from, and do you start with the characters first and then the scene, or vice versa? Are there any hints you can give to our readers about how to develop a character in a short story context? How do you think up a ‘twist in the tale’, and is this always necessary or can a story instead come to a ‘gentle halt’?
  • For me, writing is a discipline. There is no inspiration, just write and the story will come. It's not magic. It’s work. It doesn't matter what you write, a shopping list if that's all you can do, but keep at it and the story will make itself known. The characters will come and they will soon demand that you tell their story. How to write a character? Think of a name, male or female. Where did they go to school? What do they eat for breakfast? What are their politics? Are they friendly? Evil? Hard working? Greedy? Think of a hundred questions and answer them. Then the most important one...What do they want? Now think of a way to stop them from getting it. How do they overcome the hurdles you put in their path? I like a twist as well as the next person but often the story just needs to be told and the ending can be ambiguous or sudden. Queenie's last day had a gentle ending, as did When I was young.

  • Do you write on impulse- when you just feel like putting pen to paper- or do you set time aside during the day or week to do this? Have you ever suffered from that unmentionable author affliction, ‘writer’s block’? If yes, how did you deal with it?
  • I usually start writing at 9am and carry on till lunch from Monday to Friday. However, since this situation with coronavirus I have not written at all. My eldest son lives in Japan and I usually get to see him once a year and this has been cancelled and I am extremely anxious about the health of my husband and younger son both of whom are drivers and are exposed to people each day. I am dealing with it by going to my other love of singing as this brings me a lot of joy. I have written in the calendar that I must take up writing again the Tuesday after Easter. I generally do what the calendar tells me to.

  • What would you say is the ideal length for a short story? Yours2 Read receives submissions which range from under a thousand words to six to seven thousand: we find that the length of a story, or indeed its brevity, is not necessarily an indication of quality!
  • It depends, I think. On the story and also on the reader. The shortest story I have submitted is 500 words where the longest is Mary Mary at 20000 words. For me, Mary Mary is a very personal story and I have dedicated it to my daughter who we lost in 2014. I put a lot of her into that story. Georgie Porgie took me over 2 years to write. Most of that was research. I am so proud of it but it is a matter of taste. I have found on yours2read that people seem to like the short personal pieces. I need to make a decision about whether I should write for the reader or for myself. At the moment, I think I have been trying to do both. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

  • Have you ever had to deal rejection of a book or story? If you write a story and get bad reviews, how do you prevent these from spoiling your enthusiasm to continue writing? Have you submitted any of your previous work to competitions? If yes, how did you find out about the dates these were running, and did you write solely for the competition or instead for the pleasure of writing?
  • I have won awards for my writing and been published twice. I have had quite a few rejections but I don't let that get me down. Stephen King was rejected over 500 times before his first book Carrie was accepted. He is now a millionaire. Who knows eh? You can google for competitions, but beware, there are a lot of scams out there. I never pay more than £5 for an entry. So far I have always found pleasure in my writing. I look at the competitions out there and try to pick something I have done that fits. I don't enter often. I used to dream of making a good living with my writing but those dreams have been dashed. To be honest, I think that due to the current circumstances, my aspirations have changed to wanting my loved ones to be safe, to be able to see my son again and to regain some freedoms. Everything else is just jam.

  • Are there any established authors’ works you’d like your stories to be compared with? Who would you say are your top three favourite authors, and why do you like their stories or style? Which would you say is your ’all time’ favourite author, and why?
  • My favourite author would be Stephen King. He writes not horror exactly but more about the dark side of human nature. I have no idea why this appeals. Maybe I have psychopathic tendencies. Ha ha. I grew up with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clark and then onto Clive Barker. I still buy the SF anthologies every year and my kindle is filled with horror shorts and Sci fi shorts. I don't want to be compared with anyone. I am me. How great would it be to be able to have a book standing on the shelf next to the greats and be holding your own?

  • Your stories are written in many different settings and contexts. How do you approach researching a particular time or location for the setting of a story? Do you use internet sources alone, or are there others?
  • I go on the internet at first. I go to the library and look at maps and read literature of the time and place. Sometimes, money permitting, I might travel to a place and walk around to get a feel of it. Generally, I like to have a coffee outside and listen in to people. I take little bits of me and also people that I have known in my life and think about a phrase they might have used or a look they might have had. It’s all in there. I also rely on the reader to have imagination and to provide their own voice and richness to the story. It’s a combined effort.

  • Are there any aspects of your earlier life, perhaps your working experience, which provide sources upon which you can draw for your writing?
  • I suppose I have had a bit of a hard life and that is actually a good thing. It gives one resilience and I often bring that to the fore in the story. Queenie was an elderly lady, an alcoholic, who lived in the next block of flats to us when my children were small. She used to pay my elder son, 5p to do up her shoelaces, until he refused as she his words ”had piss running down her leg. So it ain't worth the money” Mary Mary had a lot of my daughter in the main character. She was a person with a beautiful heart, covered up in a crispy wrapping. A lot of my stories have pain in them. I have suffered a lot of pain with 3 broken hips and shoulders due to accidents and also a lot of grief. Loss is another theme that runs through my stories as does redemption. I think these are all common to the human experience and it is through drawing on these that I hope to connect. It can be difficult. To pour your heart open is to leave yourself vulnerable and maybe this is why I have been finding it difficult to do at a time when I need to be strong. But I will again. It is who I am.

  • If you were asked for four bullet points as to what makes a good short story, what would these be? And for balance, do you have four points for what makes a bad short story?
  • Good 1, Believable characters. 2, There should be a change that occurs because of the plot. 3, The speech needs to be realistic. 4, If I am the reader, try to make me feel something. Bad 1, Language that is too flowery, or even worse...academic. 2, Too much description of a room for instance. A bedroom is a bedroom. No need to describe every little detail. I, the reader will imagine that for you. 3, People are 3 dimensional. Even Goebbels was good to his children. Baddies are not all bad, neither are the goodies all good.

  • Has any of your work been previously published in ‘hard copy’? If yes, how did you find a publisher, and did you also have an agent? What is your opinion of self-publishing, sometimes called ‘vanity publishing’?
  • I have been published with Hammond House Publishing. They are a small press. I received no payment but did get free books. I think the name, vanity publishing says it all. Either do it, or not. I like the small press, but like I said before, I am not aiming high.

  • Do you have any new stories in the pipeline? If yes, can you give us a hint as to what these are about?
  • . I'm thinking about There Was A Crooked Man, to go with the rest of the Twisted Tales of the Nursery. collection that I am compiling. I am just mulling things over in my mind about where I want to go with it. When I’m done, I will send it on. Hopefully you will approve.

Many thanks, Sharon, for taking part in this interview. We look forward to seeing more of your work on the platform soon- the reviews have always been excellent, and I for one will be amongst the first to download your next story!