Catherine Menon is one of the judges for the Short Story category of the Hysteria Writing Competition 2016. Read about the writing and writers she loves.
Which writers or poets inspire you and why?
I’m a fan of Elif Shafak, as well as Rose Tremain, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Amit Chaudhuri. I love the way that both Elif Shafak and Gabriel Garcia Marquez weave different strands of plot together, so that events you’d thought were completely unrelated come together in the end to form a whole. I’m also inspired by the way Rose Tremain and Amit Chaudhuri are so precise in their use of language – every phrase says exactly what it’s meant to. There’s a bare-bones simplicity in that, and it really appeals to me.
If you are a writer or poet, how did you get started?
I took a creative writing short course at City University as a hobby a few years ago – at that stage it was really just for interest’s sake. Two of the pieces I finished during the course ended up being shortlisted in competitions – one for the Willesden Herald, and one for the WriteIdea prize, which definitely inspired me to keep on with it! I’m now enrolled at City for the Creative Writing MA which starts in September.
Which genre of writing do you prefer and why?
As a reader, I like writing that makes me think and gives me something to work for. That can encompass almost any genre, as long as there’s something in it which isn’t laid out on a plate for the reader. Magic realism is a favourite of mine, as well as anything with a touch of surrealism. I must admit, too, that I love curling up with a good mystery novel and trying to guess whodunnit!
Are you a library lover, a bookshop bird or an online owl?
I’m lucky enough to have several very good libraries near me, so I can usually find something there that I like. For more niche things, though, I still think you can’t beat a real, hands-on bookshop.
Are there some themes you enjoy more than others?
Absolutely. I particularly enjoy writing about “place”; very often when I write, the place where the story’s set will be just as important as any of the characters. I also try and foreground the relationships between characters, and the connections they make with each other. As a reader, anything with an element of mythology or folklore will grab my attention.