This generation is really into astrology and horoscopes. Did you take any inspiration from this new movement? How do you feel about horoscopes?
I got the idea for this story from the little horoscope column in the daily free paper that I sometimes read with my children on the bus to school. I’m afraid I’m rather sceptical about them, but from a language point of view I love the way they are worded in such a way as to be able to mean anything to anyone – it’s all about what you read into them! And they’re always relentlessly upbeat too – my piece is a sort of satire on that, I guess. At the same time, whenever I’ve read or shown this piece to anyone, and however cynical they are about astrology, they always listen out with especial care to what the story says about their star sign! We’d all love to think that we’re part of a pattern, that the universe has a role for each of us, and that it’s even possible to find out what that is. This too is all part of the fascination of horoscopes for me – that urge for cosmic approval and guidance goes very deep.
The dark humor in this piece is hilarious but honest. Which of these horoscopes did you enjoy writing the most?
Probably Libra, Virgo, Gemini. I guess all of them, loosely, are versions of nightmares that I recognise. What I really enjoyed, though, was playing with the whole horoscope format.
Have you got any writing plans for 2019?
Yes! At the moment I’m seeking pledges for Kitten on a Fatberg, a comic novel-in-emails about an eccentric writers’ group that I wrote with a couple of pals. It’s a real fun read, a mix of pathos and farce, involving an exploding sheep’s head, a cosplay stalker and an alien mothership invasion among many other things! More info and pre-orders here: https://unbound.com/books/kitten-on-a-fatberg/
I’m also halfway through a new novel, working title The Wolf in the Woods, about a couple who go off for a stay in a cottage in a bid to save their marriage – only to discover that they are being spied on…
I’ve got a collection of short stories, Hotel Du Jack, due out in early 2020. And I hope to write lots more short stories and flash pieces in between too…
If you had a message for readers about this story or writing in general, what would you say?
I’m very wary of tips and rules – people have to find their own way. Not everyone can write every day, for example.
But one thing that I’ve found helpful for me is about holding on to ideas. For me typing is the easier part — it’s having good ideas that’s really hard, and holding on to them. If I get an idea, I always make a point of grabbing it in some way there and then, however inconvenient – scribble down some lines down in a notebook, record a few thoughts on a phone, take some pics that will help you keep it in mind. I’ve found that if I do that, I can sort of ‘bottle’ the idea and come back to it when I’m able/ready to write it up – sometimes years later. But if I don’t, the idea can all too easily slip away for ever…
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
You can read Dan Brotzel’s new piece “Your Daily Horror-Scope” in Issue Nine of The Ginger Collect!