Author Spotlight: Clive Tern

Which author is your biggest inspiration?

There isn’t a single one, and they change over time. Which is a complete cop-out of a response. Here’s a few that have stood out, and why: Louis L’Amour – If he wrote about a trail overlooking a specific landmark, that trail existed. I like that, and when writing strive to include accurate, recognisable, details; Ray Bradbury & PK Dick – both wrote short stories which challenged what our understanding of reality is; Marian Keyes & Daphne du Maurier – both wrote stories that play with your perception, but do so without tripping you out of the story (Rachel’s Holiday & Rebecca, respectively); Iain M Banks & Alastair Reynolds – because, space opera which is hugely intelligent and compelling.

What’s your favorite science fiction short story, book, movie?

Short Story: The Eleven Holy Numbers of the Mechanical Soul by Natalia Theodoridou (http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/theodoridou_02_14/). I have loved this story from the moment I read it.

Book: Consider Phlebas by Iain M Banks, or Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle. Of course there’s a whole host of others, but these are two books that I re-read every few years.

Film: Tremors, or Independence Day. I tend to like my films dumb, bright, loud, and featuring explosions of some sort.

What advantages do you think flash fiction has to offer you as a writer?

It’s a great way to stretch the brain when writing becomes difficult, as it forces you to really concentrate on an idea and seek out ways to distill information to its bare essence. Flash fiction also helped keep me writing during a difficult period a few years ago. While I struggled to maintain forward motion on any longer projects weekly flash fiction prompts gave me a small point of escape. It’s also a great means of being exposed to other fantastic writers.

Do you think science fiction lends itself well to flash compared to other speculative genres?

There is certainly a shorthand that can be used due to so many people understanding basic SF staples. This means its easier to convey an idea in a few words as less explanation is required. However, the same can be said for fantasy – dwarves, elves, dragons etc don’t require much set up. The real skill is always in the hand of the writer, in using the ideas for maximum affect.

What are your greatest challenges with writing flash and micro fiction?

Having an idea that can be distilled to its barest essence, without being merely a sketch for a much bigger story.

Is your favorite genre to write in sci-fi?

I certainly love writing about space, Mars, and spaceships. But I also enjoy a certain type of steampunk aesthetic (less the Victorian England & mysticism side, more impossible machines from pre-digital technology). I also write non-genre and, while non-have been published as yet, feel some of my best character exploration has happened in these stories.

Where can readers find your other work and which story are you the most proud of?

There’s a list of my publications at https://clivetern.com/publications/, with links to where they can be read or purchased. Of these my favorite is from last year, Fishing Lake Tanganyika. It’s the story of a man struggling to keep his family above water in trying times, and a strange and unknown creature in the lake.

Are there any links you’d like to share where readers can follow you?

Recently I disconnected from both Facebook and Twitter. For me they are far too much of a distraction. Since doing so I’ve discovered I have more time in the day! However I do have a blog where I post infrequent maundering on things that are going on which affect my writing – http://www.clivetern.com.

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