The latest in our series of Q&As with the authors of Crush is Elaine Cain. Read on to hear more about her writing and to read an excerpt of her story ‘Glitch’.
Can you give us a bit of background about yourself? How did you come to writing?
I often had my head in a book, or in the clouds day dreaming, growing up in a country town. I was creative as a kid, making up stories and playing music, but I had to make a choice for university and I ended up studying what I loved most then, music. I was a music teacher briefly then zigzagged my way along in adult education and writing roles. Fast forward years later, I now work in change management in a corporate environment. I get to be creative with strategies and communications to a certain extent. Over the years I really longed for another creative outlet so I returned to writing.
How do you get your ideas? Is there anywhere particular you look for inspiration?
Ideas come from everywhere – it’s hard to turn that off sometimes! I have scribbled notes on bits of paper, in my phone, in emails I send to remind myself of something. I can be sitting having a tea at the Central Market on a Saturday morning and hear a snippet of conversation or see a person pass by and an idea is sparked. Plus when I mention I like to write stories, people share experiences – a couple of words can spark an idea, which turns into a story. Travelling is the best inspiration for me, whether it’s locally or overseas. I love to take photos as well and I find pictures can easily generate ideas.
What does your writing process look like? Does it change from story to story?
Yes, it changes from story to story. Some longer stories I will plan out the story arc and start with the opening and the ending, then build characters and piece it together. I know where I am heading but how we all get there, the characters and me, is a mystery. Shorter simpler stories, like ‘Glitch’, come out on their own – I think about it for a while, how it might sound, then sit and write it, often all at once.
How do you approach building the structure of a story? Do you like to play with form?
I find the structure and form often evolves as the story idea does. Sometimes it can be a conscious choice though not often. I can write something then think it doesn’t really work so I make a change, like the voice it’s told in, to see what happens. I did a great writing course that forced us to try different things – I go back to this content for ideas and see how I can make the story feel right.
Crush explores a variety of interpretations and experiences of romantic love. What aspects of love did you want to explore in your writing?
Love is amazing, frustrating, beautiful and sad, and all of this is interpreted and defined so very differently by each of us. I find that fascinating. Glitch explores all of these things in a snapshot. I wondered how my interpretation of what romantic love is compared to others, how someone who has no example of real love in their life may view things. What love can do to us, consciously and unconsciously, is amazing to see.
How have you tried to either embrace or push the boundaries of the romance genre in your writing?
I try to push it a little, just a nudge down a side street from what some people may think romance writing is. Interpretations of romance vary as much as we all do. That’s what makes it a wonderful genre to write about.
Excerpt from ‘Glitch’ by Elaine Cain
I signalled to Kevin to join me in the hallway. He shook his head and went to the dinner table. Mum and Dad were fussing around him, helicoptering food and drinks, asking questions all the while. If it hadn’t been Mum’s birthday I would have been out of there, calling the police on the way out the door. But I sat, ate, smiled and said little. After lunch, Mum and I cleaned up while Dad turned on the telly to see if the footy was on, still chatting to Kevin. Mum asked why hadn’t I said anything? How long had we been dating? Had I met his parents yet? She was non-stop with the chatter, happy because she thought I’d found someone.
I grabbed her arms to keep her still and asked her to stop.
‘I didn’t ask him to come and I had never said where you lived. We aren’t serious enough to meet each other’s parents yet. Something isn’t right here.’
Her reaction was denial. Kevin had known things, had told them of romantic dates, of long conversations and chats about our future. Some of it was lies, some of it real. Her words were harsh—why would I push away a great guy like this? Do I want to be single and childless forever?
To read more of ‘Glitch’ by Elaine Cain, pick up a copy of Crush from our online shop or from all good bookstores.