Born in London, raised in Stevenage, currently living in East Anglia where he works as an editor, writer and project worker. Studied Modern Languages, which, he is sad to confess, he now speaks with the linguistic incompetence so typical of his fellow natives. Co-founder of Imsatso Productions, and occasionally involved with other theatre companies.
Sean McSweeney in 60 seconds
When did you start writing?1982 England.
What do you love about short stories?That the best can deliver the same punch as a good novel or film.
Do you write in other forms?Many – too many, in fact.
What distracts you from writing?Anything that messes with your head: incompetent bureaucracies, hopeless transport systems, the need to earn money, mendacious software, cold callers, etc.
Outside of writing, what are your other passions?Music and sport are big ones.
What is your favourite book?Tristram Shandy (today – could be a different answer tomorrow).
Who are your favourite writers?Alice Munro, Russell Hoban and George Orwell (today – could be a different answer tomorrow).
Where is your dream location?A traditional English mediterranean town in Central Europe.
What one item would you put into Room 101?Designers who rank form over function. This might be for anything – mixer taps, IT menus, tin-openers – I especially despise software and IT companies that change page designs and menus for no good reason (and there usually is no good reason).
Do you have any advice for new writers?I wouldn't dare presume – except, perhaps to remind them that rejections are opinions not definitive judgments.
Work by Sean McSweeney:
The On-and-On Tin
"When she first arrived they said nothing to her, they just looked. An ordinary enough woman, halfway through her life perhaps … modest and respectful, but they were shocked at this female on her own. She said her village had been wiped out in a mudslide, she alone had survived. The gods favoured her, then? No, she said, just lucky." (from "Too Much Too Soon") Across twenty bite-size flash-fiction stories of no more than 500 words each, the reader can travel from Pre-Conquest Latin America to Post-Catastrophe Britain; or see inside the mind of Don Quixote's horse and the mind of an impatient would-be suicide bomber; or meet the mythological character who delights in other people's dilemmas and the woman who decided not to tell the world about her supernatural experiences. Perhaps you will find the answer to questions you never thought to ask: What was the real effect of The Great Plague? And how did British cities end up with such woeful transport provision? If you get annoyed when others try to tell you what to feel, you'll sympathise with Jeffery in "Che Bello!" And if some people just leave you exhausted but you don't understand why, you'll sympathise with Eddie in "is This a Law of Thermodynamics?"
No One Ever
"Many who waded through the water coloured it with their blood, wine-red – a new meaning for the wine-dark sea of legend…" The battle of Marathon, fought in a time of treachery, danger and intense fear and superstition, was a military disaster for the Persians. But it was not the end of danger for Greece, and the courier's famous triumphant journey, commemorated in the Olympic race, carried a frightening secret: "His own shadow, long and thin in front of him, was like a rope pulling him towards Athens; as he neared his destination so it gradually shortened, so the sun rose, so the enemy fleet moved towards Phalerum." What of the Athenian runner himself? Surely, there was no way he could have known how his feat would be celebrated: "Thousands upon thousands of people running. In all the known world, and even lands beyond." He would surely not have known or cared how fast he was running. And he would not have been able to predict that two messengers, not one, would be named in the annals. Or would he?
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