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Interview with Cupán Fae Author Colm Dodd

Colm Dodd is an engineer by day and a writer by night, originally from Bray in Co. Wicklow. He first contracted the writing bug in primary school with the Write-a-Book competitions. His writing mostly touches on the sci-fi, fantasy, crime, and post-apocalyptic genres. Colm has been a member of Cupán Fae for 2 years and has contributed to Anthologies: Fierce New World and Fiercepunk.

What genre do you like to write in most?

I’m a sci-fi and fantasy fan, and I love writing crime. I can’t flag a specific point that attracted me to sci-fi and fantasy, they’ve just always been around me. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser, and how does that work for you?

I’m a pantser and if I was to be completely honest with myself, it works for me because I’m good at rationalising my terrible reasons for not sitting down and plotting out my stories more thoroughly. I prefer to work out the goals for my characters, the key decisions they have to make along the way, and then I start chipping away at that vague form of an idea until it looks presentable.

How long does it take you to write a short story? What’s the easiest thing about writing a short story? What’s the most difficult thing?

In a self-inflicted worst-case scenario, I can write a short story overnight. I avoid this at all costs because there’s a point of tiredness where my hands will just type out whatever random thoughts enter my head while I’m writing. And then I have to figure out where I stopped writing my story and started rambling about being hungry, or sleepy, or how much I want a cup of tea.

The easiest part of any story for me is figuring out what my characters are, where they come from, and how they engage with the story. And this is where I get to experiment with what is and isn’t a character, and the narrators aren’t always the main characters of a story. In one of my short stories in the Fiercepunk anthology, I tried to make the airship the main character, and the most important entity in the plot.

Names are always the hardest part for me. And this is where creating or adding characters comes back to bite me. I can do everything else about a character quickly, and get them into the plot with no problem at all. But can I name these new characters? Or even the old characters who were in the story from the get-go? No. I have pages upon pages of baby names bookmarked in every browser on my computer. And even then, I struggle with names.

When did you write your first short story? How old were you? What was it about?

I’m not sure this counts, but I’m going to go with an entry I wrote for the Write-a-Book Competition in primary school. I think I was in senior infants, so I was 5 or 6 years old. Most children’s stories feature animals, so animals and books were a great combo in my head. I’d just discovered my uncle’s subscription to National Geographic Magazine and read some articles on marsupials, so of course my book had to be about kangaroos and koalas living out everyday human life. I got bored with the koalas about two pages in and wrote them out of the story entirely. So my first short story and book were one and the same, and it was also my first misleading title. I got an early start in clickbait.

Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or ebooks better? Why?

Physical books, and it’s more political/philosophical than any personal reason. I think the EULA model most eBooks and audiobooks are sold under is anti-consumer. If I pay for something, I prefer to own it, not just pay for access to someone else’s copy.

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