C.S. Mee

Tell us a little about yourself – how long have you been writing? Any publications?

Reading and writing are a way of life for me (if not, unfortunately, a way of earning a living!). At some level I’ve always written, but I only allowed myself to take writing seriously more recently. I’ve been working on a novel for some years and I write short stories whenever the inspiration takes me and I have the time (rarely at the moment with three children under five…). I’ve had the good fortune to publish a few stories and had some placed in competitions, which is always encouraging. I also studied literature for many years and have published an obscure academic work on the interpersonal encounter in French and Italian travel writing.

Specifically, tell us a bit more about your longlisted story – the inspiration behind it, the writing of it…

Well… it is a pretty weird story, even by my standards. I started out writing a story about tiny people, but that got boring so I included some conjoined twins and then that got me thinking about the idea of twins who don’t look conjoined. What if someone appeared to be one person but was in fact two? (Many of my stories involve ‘what if?’ scenarios). I love to examine the limits of fiction and this is a fairly absurd situation, requiring some serious suspension of disbelief. But it is perhaps the human aspect that intrigued me the most, the sibling relationship under these exceptional circumstances. The protagonist’s voice came out of nowhere, as voices often do, and set the tone of the piece, but I did make a conscious decision that these were brothers, not sisters, which would have been a different story, I think.

Name three short story writers you especially admire – why?

Reading Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino always reminds me why I write and inspires me to get on with it. I admire the ways they each explored the world through fiction and tested the possibilities of literature. Alice Munro is also extraordinary for her ability to create a rich and complete world in each of her stories. But aside from well-established greats and thinking more of contemporary writers in this country, I especially admire David Constantine for the humanity of his stories, Lucy Wood for her use of the mythical and magical and Carys Davies for the cunning reversals and gentle compassion of her tales.

  • C.S. Mee’s 2017/18 GBP Short Story Prize longlisted story, ‘Brothers’, is available to read here.