Chris McQueer on writing HWFG: 'Phones are like black holes for productivity'
- Lynsey May
- 8 November 2018
McQueer's second collection of short stories brings us more hilarious and – sometimes creepy - slices of Scottish life
In Hings, Glasgow-based writer Chris McQueer gave his readers plenty to laugh about. The follow up, HWFG (Here We F**king Go) published by 404 Ink and out this month, is just as funny but takes us to a darker place. We nabbed Chris to chat writing, Twitter and his fears of being 'a one hit wonder' (nae danger, pal).
How was it sitting down to write the stories for HWFG, was it different to Hings?
Aye it was totally different. When I was writing Hings, I was just planning to put the stories online to make my pals laugh. There was no pressure on me, it felt like I was just writing for the fun of it really. But with HWFG I was writing to a deadline and I felt under a lot of pressure. I felt the first few stories I wrote were awful and I thought to myself, 'Is this it? Am I a one hit wonder?' but thankfully I managed to plough through and once I stepped away from writing stories that ended on punchlines or slapstick humour I found I was writing much better and more complex stories.
There's a lot of light and dark going on in these stories, has it been fun delving into a darker side?
Definitely, I've loved going a wee bit darker with my writing. I feel like comedy and horror are linked, if you can make people laugh then you can make them feel scared or creeped out as well. Initially, I felt like HWFG had to be in the same mould as Hings 'cause that's what people liked and expected from me but I wanted to push myself a wee bit harder with this new book and I felt changing the tone of the stories slightly was the way to do that.
Talk of Hings lit up Twitter and HWFG looks like it's going to do the same, you seem super comfortable with the platform but what's your take on social media as a whole - all for the good, or a bit of a distraction sometimes?
I absolutely love Twitter, it's probably the main reason Hings did so well. It's definitely a good thing, I think. I get to interact with readers directly and stuff like that but it can be distraction, big time. I can stop for a "quick 5 minute break" from writing, check my phone, look up and an hour has passed where I've just been scrolling mindlessly and tweeting a load of shite. It's murder. Phones are like black holes for productivity.
Are you one of those writers who likes to get all the work done in secret or do you like chatting through your ideas?
A bit of both. Sometimes if I'm really stuck on something I'll show the story to someone to try and get a bit of inspiration for where to take but other times I just batter through with it. I think there's only 3 stories in the new book that the likes of my ma and my girlfriend have read before publication, the rest I just worked away at in secret.
Are there any writers you're dying to meet? Or any books that just blew your mind?
Amelia Gray is probably my favourite writer, I'd love to sit and pick her brains about writing. Especially to see how she managed to write as brilliant as her novel Threats. Irvine Welsh is a hero of my mine so I'd love to get a few pints with him. I recently read Blindboy's book of short stories which was just sensational. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine proper blew me away earlier this year, as close to a perfect debut as you'll ever get from Gail Honeyman.
Now HWFG is out in the world, what's going on for you?
Just now I'm working on my first novel. It's a totally different game, writing a novel compared to short stories, but it's great fun. It's weird having room to breathe and space to go deeper into the characters and themes than I normally can with a short story. After that who knows, I'd love to do a bit of writing for the telly, maybe even try and write a screenplay but we'll see what happens.
Launches: Waterstones Glasgow, Thu 8 Nov, 7pm and Waterstones West End, Edinburgh, Mon 26 Nov, 6.30pm.