Amelia Mangan is a writer originally from London, currently living in Sydney, Australia. Her writing is featured in many anthologies, including Attic Toys (ed. Jeremy C. Shipp); Blood Type (ed. Robert S. Wilson); Worms, After The Fall, X7 and No Monsters Allowed (ed. Alex Davis); The Bestiarum Vocabulum (ed. Dean M. Drinkel); Carnival of the Damned (ed. Henry Snider); and Mother Goose is Dead (eds. Michele Acker & Kirk Dougal). Her short story, "Blue Highway," won Yen Magazine's first annual short story competition and was featured in its 65th issue. She can be found on Twitter (@AmeliaMangan) and Facebook.
You’re originally from London. What brought you to Sydney and how long have you been there?
My dad went to prison for fraud when I was seven, so my mum and I came over here to stay with my grandmother. I've lived here ever since (in Australia, not with my grandmother), so that makes twenty-six years come August.
You’ve published a number of short stories, was it hard for you to transition to longer work like Release?
Yeah, longer work's tougher, no question. First drafts of short stories usually take me about ten days to complete, which means it's out of my system quicker and I can move on sooner. The thing about longform work is that you really need to be sure you like these characters and this world enough to soldier on with them for months, maybe years at a time, and even if you do like them enough to do that, there's gonna be points where you get thoroughly sick of them and begin to cast longing glances at your notebook full of ideas for other novels. But if the idea is genuinely good - and bad ones will reveal themselves relatively quickly; they're unsustainable and blow over like cardboard - then it's worth pursuing to the end.
It's not the first novel I attempted, but it's the first I ever finished. I'm a little embarrassed to say it took eight years, mainly because I was at university and then did the postgrad thing and, basically, life and physical exhaustion got in the way for a bit. At one point I came dangerously close to just destroying the file and salting the earth behind it, but reason (I won't say sanity) prevailed.
Do you have a “process” for writing? A certain number of pages a day? Or words a day? Do you write on your birthday and holidays? Take weekends off?
I try to do at least five hundred words a day, but if I don't meet that, I don't sweat it (unless I'm on a deadline, of course). My feeling is that, even if you only get one sentence down in a day, you're a sentence ahead of where you were the day before. And I hate that whole "REAL WRITERS WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THEIR LIVES NO EXCUSES I DON'T CARE IF YOUR WHOLE FAMILY DIED" thing that's become prevalent in writing communities; I see how it can be useful to some who find it difficult to actually sit down and do the work, but too often I see it used as a stick for writers to beat themselves with when they fail to meet that self-imposed standard. And writers don't need any more excuses to hate themselves.
Do you listen to music when you’re writing? What’s most often on your playlist?
Not while I'm writing - I need silence for that - but adjacent to writing, absolutely. Everything I've ever written has a playlist; a few of the ones on Release's (Irma Thomas' "Ruler of My Heart", Wanda Jackson's "Funnel of Love", the folk song "In The Pines", Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight") made it into the text. The style and tone of the music on each playlist varies according to the style and tone of, and emotional state I want to evoke with, each individual story, but PJ Harvey seems to show up on all of them eventually - which, seeing as how she's my favorite musician, is not entirely surprising.