I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Neil James Hudson

Salisbury Cathedral spire under stormclouds

Today, we’re talking with Neil James Hudson, who has a story in I Didn’t Break the Lamp!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Neil James Hudson: I live in the middle of nowhere on the North York moors, and work in York as a charity shop manager. I’m currently halfway through an MA in Creative Writing at York St John University.

I’ve published around fifty sf and fantasy stories, as well as what we might euphemistically call a “paranormal romance” novel, On Wings of Pity. I have a short story collection available from my website at www.neiljameshudson.net, and a Facebook page with news updates.

DV: What inspired you to write “Touch the Earth” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?

NJH: I’d already come up with the idea of the city for a previous unpublished story that I was never quite satisfied with. It seemed the ideal setting for the anthology. While I was trying to come up with a new plot, I found myself playing an old piece of music by Michael Nyman that I loved when I was a student, with two women singing forlorn extended notes that weave in and out of a slow string movement. I realised that I wanted these voices in my city, and decided that I may as well pinch the title while I was at it as well.

DV: Your take on our anthology prompt was unexpected but wonderful. Can you tell us more about the thought process that resulted in an imagined place as almost an entity in its own right?

NJH: All cities are imaginary. The bricks and glass might be real enough, but what it all means is personal to us. We build them up with our own experiences, fantasies, memories and wishes. One person may see a shortcut to work, another might see the place where they had their first kiss. Which is more important, the concrete and stone that limits what we can and can’t do, or the infinite possibilities that they generate for our personal stories? I’ll take the map in my head over a real one any day.

DV: Your story centers around music. Do you write or play any music yourself?

NJH: Alas, no. We were never taught it at school, and I never had the confidence to take it up on my own. This feels like a great loss to me; parts of my brain have never been exercised, and there’s a whole area of human culture that I’ve excluded myself from. I may yet have a mid-life crisis and buy a drumkit for the benefit of the neighbours.

DV: If you had an imaginary friend growing up, what was their name, and what were they like?

NJH: I didn’t have any real friends. My childhood companion was my teddy-bear Barnaby, who combined intelligence, wit and magical powers with a surprisingly violent attitude to the school bullies. I eventually realised that he was real and I was the imaginary friend, and when he grew up, I just kind of went away.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?

I have a story “One Survivor” coming out in Blood Bound Books’ Crash Code anthology. Otherwise I’m currently working on a set of vignettes, collectively entitled “One Hundred Pieces of Millia Maslowa,” in the hope that I can sell them both as individual pieces and as a book-length whole. The form’s a bit of a departure for me, and I’m hoping the first pieces in the series will start appearing in various zines sometime this year.

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