Interview with a FlashDog: Craig Anderson

FlashDogs are an international community of talented and supportive flash fiction writers.

The community are close to my heart and I’ve been privileged to be central to the project since the start. I wanted to complete a draft version of my first novel, so I took  a break from running FlashDogs. As the novel is drafted now, I have some time available and I thought it would be lovely to use this time to interview some good folk from the community.

This is the first in a series of #InterviewWithAFlashDog

No word limits. No need to win a comp. Just a chance to get to know the writer.

The questions follow a format: First, Next and Last.

First up is Craig Anderson. Writer. Flash Fiction judge. Community supporter and  given his travel history, a man with a secret teleportation machine (maybe):

Questions below.
Please tell us the…
MK: First book that made you want to be a writer
CA: Red Dwarf: Infinity welcomes careful drivers, by Grant Naylor. The first chapter of the book is still burned into my memory as one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. The characters and situations are so imaginative and yet grounded in the everyday and totally relatable. I read it as a teenager and all I kept thinking was ‘wow, someone came up with this!’ Needless to say I also loved the TV show the book was based on (at least until the last couple of seasons – ewww)
That set me up to seek out the funny sci-fi/fantasy style of writing. Of course that led me straight to Terry Pratchett, and that really blew the doors off what I saw as possible in this genre. One day I found myself in front of a computer wondering, ‘what would my parody of the daft things in the world look like?’
MK: Next project you want to tackle
CA: I have a draft of a new novella that’s about 75% done (it’s called Trojan and its a cross between Hackers and the Hunger games) so I would like to finish that up, but I just released Lucky Shot, the second part of the Lucky Beggar trilogy on April 1st so I should probably get around to writing the third and final act to give that story it’s well deserved ending. There was a 3 year gap between parts one and two (in my defense it was a busy three years, I moved house, changed jobs and we had two kids!) I think it would be pushing my luck to make people wait another 3 years for the ending! 
MK: Last time you cried reading a book or watching film
CA: I wish I could think of some poignant example but I typically watch action movies which aren’t really known for being tearjerkers. Nowadays I get roped into watching a lot of TV with the kids. I almost cried when my daughter asked to watch the ‘baby’ episode of Clifford the big red dog for the 257th time in a row, does that count?
MK: First villain you created
CA: Brad Hatcher was my first ‘villain’, a smug, good looking, rich guy who’s Dad ran the company. He was a little too stereotypical and the story he’s from (Project Christmas) is stuck in perpetual 90% completion because I wrote it 5 years ago before I knew what I was doing! I just don’t have the heart to go back and butcher it as much as would be required to make it half decent.
For my more recent villains I’ve tried to create characters with backstories and logical reasons for behaving the way that they do. I find villains a lot more fun to write because they can do what we all dream of, throw the rules aside and behave however they like. There’s a lot of humour to be found in a character willing to go outside societies usual guidelines.
MK: Next thing you want to tackle on your bucket list (if you have one) 
CA: I haven’t really done a great job of keeping my bucket list updated! When I was younger it was filled with exciting things to do, but I managed to tick a whole load of them off such as living abroad (twice!), bungee jumping (which I did by accident) and snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef (which I did hungover – what a waste!) Lately though my bucket list is a lot more down to earth. There are still lots of places I would like to go, Japan being top of the list, but I’ll be waiting for the kids to be a bit older before I put them through a twenty hour plan ride. 
 MK: Last book, or story you have crafted
CA: I just finished up Lucky Shot which is part two of the Lucky Beggar trilogy. I didn’t write the original as part of a series, it was intended to be a standalone story, but the ending was left kind of open and I often found myself wondering what Lucky and our reluctant hero were up to. I wrote the sequel over a year ago, but to be honest it was pretty awful in its original form. Large chunks of it weren’t working and I could not bring myself to release it, so it sat gathering virtual dust on my hard drive. It wasn’t until the end of 2015 when I finally figured out what was broken and I took an axe to large chunks of the story.
As soon as I finished the second draft I knew i was on the right track, but after the initial debacle I needed a second opinion. Luckily fellow Flashdog Brian Creek was a big fan of Getting Lucky and when I tentatively asked if he’d be a Beta reader he jumped at the chance. His feedback was exactly what I needed, including catching errors, omissions, but more importantly making me re-think some of the story components. After implementing a lot of his suggestions the story lost a whole lot of fat around the middle and became a much leaner and more engaging tale. I couldn’t be happier with the end result, so a huge thanks to Brian for taking the time to help out a fellow Flashdog! He deserves a major #FDHowl 🙂
MK: First memory you have
CA: My memory is quite frankly awful. I think I may have drank away large chunks of my childhood during my university years. One of my earlier memories is from English class when we had a substitute teacher. Our assignment was to write a short story, and of course I left it until the last minute. I was struggling to wrap up my story, so I pulled out a ‘twist’ ending that was something to do with virtual reality. I cringed as I handed it in because I knew it could have been a lot better if I’d spent more time on it. 
The next lesson the teacher asked me to stay behind and I thought I was in trouble for my obviously rushed ending, but instead she accused me of copying my story from a book. She said it was ‘too good’ for a child of my age to have written and that the ending was what gave away my blatant plagiarism. It still ranks up there as one of the oddest compliments I have ever received!
MK: Next big event for you
CA: It’s our five year wedding anniversary in July, so I am busy preparing for that! November also marks ten years since our first date, which was all the way back in sunny Melbourne. November is also our sons first birthday, so lots to celebrate this year. Guess I’d best get some books sales so I can buy the wife something nice and shiny 😉
MK: Last conspiracy theory that made you really think
CA: We recently took the kids to be vaccinated, so of course I chose to read up on the whole vaccine controversy. There were a couple of well written articles from parents who chose not to vaccinate and it was hard not to respect their choice. Then of course there were dozens of articles from people convinced the government or big pharma were out to poison them or inject them with secret mind control chemicals. There were also hundreds of well written and researched articles on the benefits of getting your kids vaccinated that were more than happy to debunk the claims of the anti-vac crowd. 
In the end it wasn’t a difficult choice to get the kids their jabs, the very real risk of contracting Polio far outweighed the miniscule risk of an adverse reaction. 


That was great fun. A big thank you to Craig.

Next up Emily June Street: Luminous Creature. Weaver of truly incredible novels. FDHQ superstar and general wonderful person.

If you want to take part, please give me a shout via Twitter: @making_fiction