Interview: with Greg Kelly

Greg is a first-year creative writing student at Whitireia institute in Wellington New Zealand. When Greg encounters a cat on the street he always stops to pet it. Be like Greg. We feature his story The Hikikomori and Death in our 11th issue.

Hi Greg, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a first-year creative writing student at Whitireia institute in Wellington New Zealand. So far, I have been writing poetry, short fiction and short film scripts. Before studying, I worked in a dull office job for around ten years. I have also spent time living in South Korea and Japan.

Do you have any particular writing rituals you are comfortable sharing?

I drink filtered coffee.

Are there any horror/fantasy/sci-fi tropes or sub-genres which you feel are played out? And vice versa, what tropes would you like to see more of?

‘Science/technology is bad’ is played out. Recently, I have been watching Another Life on Netflix, which has this trope. The show is so bad it’s good.

I’d like to see more of the ‘bad robot’ trope: where an A.I. starts out innocent and naive but gradually grows pissed off by its uncaring custodians. I also like silkpunk and how it draws inspiration from classical East Asian antiquity.

What books are beside your bed right now?

Currently I’m reading Less by Andrew Greer. It follows writer Arthur Less while he travels the world on a book tour. What stands out is Greer’s muddling of words which are nearly right but are fundamentally wrong. For example, “From where I sit, the story of Arthur Less is not so bad. Look at him: seated primly on the hotel lobby’s plush round sofa, blue shirt and white shirt, legs knee-crossed so that one polished loafer hangs free of its heel”. It takes skill to mix words like this – skill I don't have.

Published or unpublished, what's the hardest scene you've written?

For a short film script (horror), I wrote a scene of playful banter between a husband and wife. The scene takes place in a car following a friend’s birthday party. Up until this point, the couple have been on the verge of breaking up. It was hard writing dialogue that feels real.

What are your thoughts on indie publishing in New Zealand?

Indie publishing is in a good place in New Zealand. I’m new to writing, but there are several journals and magazines that publish short stories and poetry. The question I keep asking myself is: why do I write? It's hard to make money from writing in New Zealand (although some great Kiwi writers do). Some writers are looking for validation. At this stage, I’m just trying to improve.

To what degree do you feel everything has already been written, in some form or another? Have you ever started writing a story, only to discover someone has already written it?

It’s hard to write original fiction. There are even internet sites dedicated to breaking down every trope imaginable. In saying this, there are opportunities to come up with new ideas. The last story I wrote was a reimagining of Aesop’s fable The Old Man and Death. There’s nothing wrong in taking an existing idea and transforming it into something new.

Thanks Greg.

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