First, please tell us about the inspiration for your piece.
‘The Castle of Blood and Ink’ was inspired by a series of ink paintings on display at Uwajima Castle, which I visited in May this year. One painting was of a castle, and there were a couple of amazing paintings of samurai too.
Ink paintings are bold and decisive—one wrong stroke of the brush and the whole painting is ruined. I imagined then, a witch, painting the castle with urgency, and the finished painting being a powerful spell of some kind. The witch (and the painting) is my own concept, but the story also involves one of my favourite creatures of Japanese mythology too.
Are you a plotter or a pantser when it comes to writing, or somewhere in between?
I’m very much a pantser. In fact, my story for Tall Tales was written on the fly and didn’t need much revising at all. That doesn’t happen all the time though; I often draft a few short scenes for a story then put it away for a awhile before coming back to it to figure out the ending. It is easy being a pantser when you mostly write short fiction, because you have an awareness while you’re typing of what elements need to be in each scene and about how many words you need, etc. You can remember structure and concise writing while putting the story together as you go. It’s also really fun when a story turns out being in a different style to what you would normally write, or what you had expected to write that day.
How do you find the editing process once you’ve finished writing?
I enjoy editing and revising. After working quickly in the first draft, I get to discover more subtle themes or connections in the story and add more details in subsequent drafts.
Do you find writing is energising or exhausting?
Energising! Unless I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and then I’m completely exhausted…
How many unfinished stories do you have?
Hard to say, but probably 10-15 unfinished shorts at any given time. I don’t mind having a big stash of short stories/flash fiction, but I get overwhelmed by the number of unfinished novellas and novels that I don’t know what to do with. I would have around 10 of those too. Most are paranormal romance, and I go back and forth about whether I actually want to be a romance author, or not. It seems like a real waste if I don’t at least try submitting them to publishers though. Help!
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I really don’t. Some days are harder than others to write of course, but I don’t pressure myself to write every single day. It’s okay to take a break and refresh—I always find my way back into the story. It helps to have multiple things to work on too—I easily switch from project to project, depending on my mood and focus.
You can read ‘The Castle of Blood and Ink’ by Kelly Matsuura in Tall Tales & Short Stories Volume One.