Five Minutes with Joshua Cram

josh cram 1 Tell us about your piece(s)?

Um. They’re all about disappointment. I think it’s fair to say I was disappointed with someone.

This work couldn’t have been made without...

My poetry tutor, Berndt, telling me I needed to have a breakthrough. And my subsequent freak out because I didn’t know what that meant, and if I needed to have a breakthrough by the next assessment.

What styles/genres/writers have significantly influenced your work?

Sylvia Plath, Mervyn Peake, and Margo Lanagan have been the biggest influences on my work to date — so, a little confessional, a lot Gothic, with a dash of punctured myths.

What existing book do you wish you’d written?

Little, Big by John Crowley. For the last few years, I’ve been a little awestruck by it. It’s just been reissued; you should read it. Or Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones.

What the best advice you have ever gotten about writing? And what's the best advice that you still ignore?

Diana Athill says that you should read everything aloud and CUT. She would know what she’s talking about. I ignore everything prescriptive — too many young writers I know are afraid of so many things because of stupid rules. Plot is an art; theme is satisfying; conflict is only one type of story. Also, adverbs and split infinitives are not the enemy.

The aspiring author in Donald Barthelme’s classic story, ‘Florence Green Is 81’, believes that the aim of literature is ‘the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart’. What’s your take on this idea?

I’m not sure that idea means much to me. It’s one aim, surely.

If you could be an animal, what would you be?

Snow leopard. Or some other type of cat.

How long did it take you to write your bio?

A few minutes.

Top three songs on your writing playlist?

'Where Did I Leave That Fire' by Neko Case.

'If It’s Alive, It Will' by Angel Olsen.

'Anti-Pioneer' by Feist.

What do you read as a guilty pleasure? What about just for normal pleasure?

Young Adult novels. Some will stay with me forever. Others I won’t touch with a long stick, which is hard because I work in a bookshop. Some I read because they win awards; and those are enjoyable guilty pleasures, though I’ll never reread them.

What book do you pretend to have read?

War and Peace. I read it when I was far too young to understand it. I still say that I’ve read it though, because it's 1300 pages and no.

What literary tattoo would you get?

Obviously, I would get Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban printed in microscopic writing all down my back. But also, no. Not a fan of tattoos. Maybe one of the woodcut illustrations in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

What do you do when you aren't writing? 

I sleep and I eat.

Send us your favourite picture of an animal

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