When I was seven years old I decided when I grew up I would be an artist and an author, I still haven’t changed my mind. For a long while art was my main squeeze, I took art lessons as a kid and went to an art college for a year.
Circumstances changed when I was around 17, and I ended up moving from Spain to England. Writing became a big outlet for me, eventually leading me to university and a degree in English Language and Creative Writing.
Skip ahead a few years and writing has opened a lot of doors for me, including a job in Communications, which is where my passion seems to truly lie these days. Using my artistic and writing skills in a job is a dream come true and I hope to have the opportunity to keep working in Communications for years to come… fingers crossed!
Both art and writing are now calling to me again though, so I’m spending many late nights typing away like a mad woman trying to get everything done! It’s ok though, I’m fuelled by coffee!
MM: What do you love most about writing? What speaks to you?
KL: I love losing myself in a character, in their life, their world, their story. I love putting pen to paper, or my fingers onto the keyboard, and seeing new facets of a character emerge on the page. That moment, when a character is suddenly fully formed and takes their first breath, that’s the best bit about writing.
MM: So, what have you written?
KL: Aw man… I write a lot, but genuinely not often enough. I’ve just taken 12 months off of writing due to work, and I’ve been giving myself a hard time about it. But I’ve just rebooted my blog, where I share a lot of short stories, poetry and talk about my art and writing process.
I am about 70,000 words into a first draft of a novel that I feel quite strongly about, and the plan is to start writing that again in the next few weeks. Once the first draft is done I’ll be doing a very vicious editing process, as the novel has changed so much from what it originally started as.
Soon(ish) I should have news on a graphic novel I collaborated on with my friend @reckoner67 which was a blast to write! I’ve also collaborated with him on a short story anthology set in a hotel, which was the first real writing I did in the past 12 months and really got me back into writing. Everyone will know once it’s available to purchase, because I’m super excited about this anthology.
MM: When did you know writing was for you?
KL: When I was 14 a teacher called Mar pulled me to one side after class. She’d just finished reading our homework assignments, a piece of automatic writing (you let your mind wander, put pen to paper and write down whatever comes to mind).
She had tears in her eyes and gave me encouragement that I’ll never forget. She told me I was a ship, and that no matter where the ocean of life took me, writing was my port. She was the first person to tell me I was a writer. Her words meant everything to me.
MM: What are you working on at this minute? What was the inspiration for it?
KL: I’m currently working on what feels like a saga, but is actually a 70k unfinished first draft of a novel. Some will say the main character is shockingly similar to me. And, in some ways, she is.
The WIP is called Sarah. And she’s a bisexual woman struggling through her 20s, trying to understand the difference between love and lust. She expresses herself through her art as she struggles with addiction, depression, anxiety and rejection.
Some of these things, to a higher or lesser degree, can be said about me in my 20s. My 20s were tough! And to this day I find that love is hard to define, describe and feel. But I’ve been told that what you write best is what you know. So in a way Sarah is an exaggerated, twisted version of me. The true extent of similarities is a secret I’ll never tell…
MM: What was the first story you ever remember writing, and what was it about? How does it compare to your writing now?
KL: My first ever story was about a little boy and his robot best friend. He didn’t understand other children, his robot friend didn’t either. And although I don’t think I had this insight when I was a kid, I can see myself reflected in that little boy. I guess in some ways my writing hasn’t changed. But I sure hope it’s improved since I was nine!
MM: Do you work to an outline or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Plotter or Pantser?
KL: 100% a pantser. Queen of all pantsers everywhere!
I write a beginning, I write an ending (or two) and then I struggle to make the two meet up in the middle. For me that’s where the real story is and that’s the fun part to write.
MM: What draws you to flash-fiction, to #FP? What do you love and hate about it?
KL: I really love #FP, I remember when it started I was way more involved and would take part every week. I’ve kinda had to let that slide a little with other Friday commitments (day jobs, who has time for them?). That’s probably what I like the least, missing out on it while I’m at work.
What I love about it is that it’s the pantsiest of all writing exercises. Give me a topic and a couple minutes, or even a few seconds, and I’ll jot something down. I always write them on the fly, not sure if that’s a good thing or not. And I rarely edit them, unless I’m going over that pesky character limit!
MM: Who are your writing inspirations? How do they influence your creativity?
KL: I have quite an eclectic taste, from classic novels like Catcher in the Rye, to SciFi Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and comic books of all varieties. Terry Pratchett was one of my favourite authors, I’m still making my way through his Discworld novels.
Cassandra Clare is currently one of my favourite authors, the way she threads a story through the world she’s created is a true inspiration.
The more I read, the better the books, the better my writing becomes, because I see how it can be better, so I push to be better myself.
MM: What is your favorite motivational phrase or musing on writing, and why? What about it really hits home?
KL: I don’t think I have one! I used to quite like “Who dares, wins.” Or a bit of Yoda “Do or do not, there is no try.”
MM: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
KL: Keeping at it… which is the most vital thing! Making time to write when you’ve been at work writing all day can sometimes be really unappealing. Once I’m sat down I’m fine, I’ll write. Getting my butt into the chair is another thing completely. I try combating that by having notebooks everywhere and writing using pen and paper, then I spend hours transcribing! At least it keeps the WIP going though.
MM: What do you tell yourself every time it gets hard? Every time the stars stop aligning? What do you do when writer’s block knocks on your creative door?
KL: Ah man, this one’s a tough one. When I get writer’s block I stop and pretend I’m not a writer. Eventually I start reading more, go out and experiencing new things, watch a new show on tv… and eventually one of these things will reignite the writing spark in me. I’ve never really been able to force writing.
MM: Do you have any secret and wacky writing rituals that help the words flow?
KL: I dance! I plus my headphones in, choose a playlist and dance like no one is watching!
MM: What advice would you give to aspiring writers and poets, anyone who wants to free the art within? What helped you make it to this point?
KL: Just keep going, every day. Don’t quit quite as regularly as I do and you’ll manage to finish something worthwhile. But most of all just have fun with it. If writing is stressing you, you’re not doing it right.
MM: What genres do you find yourself most drawn to? In your books and in your #FP’s?
KL: Love. It’s something that fascinates me and eludes me.
MM: Sooo … reading anything good lately? Any recommendations?
KL: I just finished reading Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, definitely worth a read if you enjoy YA fantasy.
I’ve also been trying to read weird books, or eccentric books, this year… like In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick.
Currently I’m not doing a great job of reading, haven’t been making the time, but I’ve started The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien and I’m enjoying it!
MM: Any last thoughts for our readers?
KL: Thanks for reading, if in fact you still are… Stay weird.
MM: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
KL: You can find me on Twitter @KarinaLawrence and on Instagram @karina_lawrence (don’t forget that underscore on insta, the lady who has KarinaLawrence does not like to be tagged in stuff meant for me!)
I’ve also just revamped my old Silver Linings blog (having archived all my super old posts) to show people more about the process I go through to create art and the distractions I love that keep me from writing.
My art can be found at www.redbubble.com/people/karinalawrence and if you love my stuff please leave comments on the artwork as they really help.
The Accidental Quest – Yodel –
By Karina Lawrence-Davies
Let me begin by clearly stating, for record’s sake, that I am categorically not a coward. Though people may tell you otherwise. Some may call it cowardice to run away from fire breathing serpents, whereas I call it an instinct for survival. You wouldn’t blame a fish for swimming in water, a duck for flying or a pig for wallowing in mud. So a man is hardly to blame for having such a strong will to live, surely? It’s been bred into me, through generations of survivors, from the days of the cavemen. Evolution, that’s what that’s called. Not, and I repeat not, cowardice.
A survivor, that’s what I am in this tale. And if I’ve had to do my fair share of running, I shouldn’t be judged solely on that fact. After all, it was a good bit of running, specially that first bit. A ten I’d say, if we were in the business of grading it. Back to my point though, a man is more than simply one of his traits. I’m also rather tall. You don’t see people going around saying, “oh look at that tall chap”.
So now that that’s all cleared up, let’s begin. We’ll start in the small town of Yodel.
As starting places go it’s rather on the petite side, and the mud to acreage proportion is on the high side. In fact it’s much too muddy for anyone’s liking. Except for the pigs. Pigs love Yodel. Surprisingly, however, in the entirety of Yodel there was only one pig farmer. And to his name he had only the three pigs. The pig farmer, George Underwood, or more familiarly known as Mr Underwood, had three daughters but no wife. Some say she sunk into the mud, but you can’t believe everything you hear.
Yodel lies in a large-ish valley, which would usually mean it could house a quantifiably larger village, but proportions were never the strong suit of its residents. The small muddy hillocks are green once a year for half a week. People in Yodel call this summer, and for that week they put up their feet and enjoy the wondrous view. And in fairness to the few residents, even to an outsider, summer in Yodel really is something of a beauty.
As luck would have it, the story does not start in summer. A pity really, as the backdrop for our tale would be much more wondrous. As it was, in the middle of this winter, the mud was particularly sloshed with ice and a horrid grey colour.
Amongst the mud stood a tall and rather handsome man. Barely in his twenties. Broad shouldered. Talented. The envy of the whole village. Alright, yes. I’ll admit it was me. I was standing in the middle of the village.
‘Oi! Boy! Stop eyeing up those pigs and get some work done. Mud won’t shovel itself! Useless git.’ Mr Underwood yelled from the rickety gate that cordoned off his particular piece of mud. The dirty fencing told people “this is my piece of mud, and right proud of it I am too”, or so Mr Underwood believed.
‘Sorry George, right away!’ I quipped.
‘And I’ve told you boy, it’s Mr Underwood Sir to you!’
‘Sir, yes sorry Mr Underwood, sir!’
Alright so maybe I wasn’t so much envied as just plain underappreciated. A true underdog… one who shovelled mud from one side of a pigsty to another. My ma, bless her heart, had tried her best not to have a fourth child.
“If it hadn’t been for that extra cider that one summer night…” she used to say to me with a wistful sigh. If it hadn’t been for the cider I, Filbert Filigree Spinner, would not have been here in this big patch of mud in this small town on what would soon become the most exciting day of my life.
Mr and Mrs Spinner were both of average height, average weight and average looks. My ma often told me I was a throwback, though I’m not quite sure what she meant by it and never thought to ask. As the fourth son of the family, it’s fair to say I was a little bit shunned. Downright despised by some. Even the local tearaways steered clear of me. They might have wanted to rebel and disobey their fathers, but they weren’t stupid. Luck is, after all, luck.
Despite everything the Spinner’s household was a happy place to grow up. My brothers didn’t bully and tease me in a way I’d seen them do to one another. In fact, they never so much as laid a finger on me. Their favourite game to play with me, aside from chanting good luck ditties at me, was called the “freeze”. Quite simply they would fail to acknowledge my existence any chance they had, instead pretending that the space I occupied was empty. Over time I got quite good at playing this game.
Ma filled the house with knickknacks, the usual three leaf clover and horseshoe arrangement you saw in many houses. As the youngest I often found myself roped in to household chores, which was fine by me. After all there are only so many games you can play with mud that don’t involve it being thrown at your head while you run for cover in more mud.
With the passing of years, my parents found I was growing rather tall. Tallest of the bunch, by a good foot. And although clumsiness was in my nature, being tall also had its advantages. I didn’t need a stool when mounting or dismounting a horse, I could dust away pesky cobwebs and the honour of topping the Christmas tree was always undisputedly mine.
Adulthood, or as my pops called it “coming of age”, meant getting a job. Most people in Yodel tried their best to avoid me, so when it came to work there was only one choice. Mr Underwood would hire cheap labour from wherever he could get it, his motto being “cheap is cheap”. And that brings us back to the pile of mud, the shovel in my hands and the sheen of labour’s endeavours on my face.
 OK, so maybe on a few occasions he is referred to as “that tall chap”, but that was circumstantial (and mean). We’ll get to that a bit later.
 Small fact about Yodel, the number three is considered to be very lucky. This small detail will in fact determine much of the fate of this tale. So, not so small really, but still, three was the magic number.
 His life up to that point. There were many, many more frightening moments to come. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
 One in which the first three brothers had typically been named in true Yodel tradition, Allard Aerkerman Spinner, Barnaby Brok Spinner and Chace Clayborne Spinner, the ABC element of the family unit.
 He knew this as his father often sighed it at the dinner table as he patted his son’s arm affectionately.
 Thankfully, a bad foot would have been more bad luck than he could take.