Interview with J. C. Sturm: 4
RP: So we had The House of the Talking Cat being published with Spiral in about 1983, and there were several editions later?
JCS: 1983 and then Hodder and Stoughton reprinted it in 1986.
RP: So there's a publication a long time after something's been finished and then coming back to writing if you like as a practice, coming back to writing with a lot of force.
JCS: But not short stories.
RP: No, not short stories till this latest book The Glass House.
JCS: It was perfectly accidental. My grand-daughter was twenty-one and I wanted to find her a suitable birthday card. And I looked in all those usual shops with cards, couldn't find anything that I really liked and I thought, I'll write one myself. So I wrote her a poem, and it's actually the first poem I wrote for a book that was called Dedications.
After that I thought, I like doing this, this is fun. So I went on and of course the family caught on and they said, “Well if you can write her a poem what about us? Are you going to write me one?” And before I knew where I was, I was writing poems for all the family. Then I thought, I'll write a poem for this friend and that friend and so on. And they were all dedicated to somebody. ThatÕs why it's called Dedications.
RP: When you were working on Dedications it had its own impetus. People asking you to write things for them and you were engaging with that writing practice. Did that end up being a daily or regular thing, or just at your own pace?
JCS: I've always been erratic, I've always been irregular, and as I say I'm not a self-disciplined writer. Sometimes I write three in a night. Sometimes I write three in a week. Sometimes I take three weeks over writing one. So, you get the picture.
But in the meantime I'd been approached by Spiral. I'd been asked to take part in a reading and IÕd read one of the stories from The House of the Talking Cat, and they liked it and they said, “Got any more like that?” And I said, “I've got a whole book.” So they said, “Well could we have a look at it?” And the upshot of it was that they published in 1983. That was six years before I started writing Dedications.
But meantime the long story that didn't fit in with The House of the Talking Cat was still in the bottom drawer.
RP: And does that story appear in The Glass House?
JCS: It does.
RP: I wondered because I started reading the long story after your launch and I had thought, well maybe the entire book The Glass House is going to be this story and a few poems. But of course it's several others.
JCS: Yes. It was always my intention to go back and write another volume of short stories, including this one that had been finished in the 1960s. But then Dedications got in the way. And I thought, right, after Dedications I'll go back to the stories.
But after Dedications of course, I still hadn't finished with other things I wanted to say. But all the time this book that I'd wanted to write was sitting in the back of my mind. Then I remember having a conversation with a friend of my husband, who was a fan of mine. I was very flattered of course when he said “Are you going to write more stories?” I said, “Yes, except that I've got sort of stuck on poetry for the meantime.” He said, “Oh well, that won't last.” And I said, “What I'd really like to do is put the two together.” This was back in 1992. I said, “I'd like to write a book of short stories and poems but relating, so that the poems relate to the stories.”
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