Interview with Author Titus Green

Titus, tell us a little something about yourself.

I was born in Canada in the early seventies and moved back to the UK with my parents at the age of two. I graduated with a degree in Communication Studies in 1993 and then, via the occupation of teaching English as a foreign language, went on a twenty- six year odyssey that had me residing in six different countries for extended periods. This overseas experience has educated me profoundly and provided the empirical basis for much of my writing. I wrote sporadically in my twenties and thirties, but didn’t have anything published until I was forty-two.

What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

There are a few highlights I can think of. The first is a story called Odyssey of Tears, published originally in Sediments Literary Arts magazine in 2016, in which (I believe) I portray the colossal tragedy of Syria from 2011 onwards with the power and candor worthy of the subject matter. I am also proud of Quetzalcoatl Comet, published in The Collidescope in 2019, which was my attempt to capture the last delirious days of Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, as the conquistadors closed in, in a magical realism style.  

Why do you write?

I write to interpret reality and deviate from it. I also write to express compelling, profound and sometimes uncomfortable truths about the human experience. I am most interested in humanity’s macro themes as subject matter.

What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I am an undisciplined writer and my concentration span has lost many battles with YouTube and other digital narcotic dens. Don Delillo said: “As writers we spend our lifetime seeking solitude only to squander it” and this is uncomfortably true for me. I have no specific times set aside to write but try to sit down with a text I am working on for at least thirty minutes a day and read through it to make refinements. I’ve never finished a work in one sitting and rarely write for longer than one hour. I simply don’t have the stamina or will-power and can only marvel at the Zen-like focus of the literary masters of the past (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky come to mind) who could commit hours in the chair and produce monumental 800 page novels.

My stories can either be more or less finished articles in one draft or go through several iterations, changing from one submission to the next. My stories rarely have uniform creative processes.

Your story “The Liminal Lure” alludes to Franz Kafka in places. How much of a role has Kafka played in your life so that you decided to have him play a part in this story?  Have you read a lot of Kafka? Has he influenced your worldview a lot? What do you find fascinating about him? What do you think he would think of the 21st century?

I first read The Trial as a callow eighteen year old for my English Literature classes at my local college in Torquay, South Devon where I grew up. Initially, I wasn’t exactly knocked out by the terse, laconic style of the narrative, the bleakness of the setting or the rather enigmatic characters who seemed to have limited internal worlds. There was Joseph K, summoned randomly by court bureaucrats and kept in the dark regarding his ‘crime’ etc. With my immature mind and zero life experience, I just didn’t have the lived knowledge required to discover the novel’s brilliant meaning. In this novel Kafka is showing us that the power-holding institutions of the world are inaccessible because they are occult and occulted. If you don’t have the password, don’t have the connections or haven’t been initiated, then you simply don’t get a look in. This is why K is doomed never to reach the ‘higher court’.

Kafka makes his dream cameo in this story for two reasons. The first was his understanding of why corporations and institutions break us down mentally with Sisyphean tasks such as that experienced by the protagonist in The Liminal Lure. The second was his prescience: he sees the slick architecture of techno-tyranny under construction with a clarity no seminar-selling futurist of the present ever could. His message is, of course, a warning to the protagonist which goes unheeded.

I think Kafka would be justifiably horrified with the world of 2021. Phenomena such as China’s Social Credit System and the West’s corresponding fetish for enhanced surveillance societies, facial-recognition, big data, the ‘internet of things’ etc. would certainly give him pause and motivation to reinterpret reality in his fiction.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

Yes, I have to give a shout-out here to my father Paul (also a writer) who has given his time generously to beta-read some of my work and give suggestions.

Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I recently completed a paranormal short story called The Encounter, which I am planning to submit to (hopefully) receptive editors shortly.

Do you have any writing events coming up? For example: something being published/released? A reading of one of your works? Interviews? Any speeches or talks?

Not currently.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

On a practical level, I’d like to find a publisher enthusiastic enough about my work to put my short fiction into a collection. This will of course be a very difficult and time consuming project and my expectations are realistic. I want to produce a novel but don’t think I have the writing DNA or novelist discipline required for this, as indicated in my earlier comments. The short-form and I just seem to have a natural affinity. I’m a literary ‘sprinter’ while the novelists are the marathon runners.

What do you think of bad reviews? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Frankly, almost no editors of literary magazines ever give feedback these days other than dismissing your submissions with the familiar cliché that your story ‘wasn’t a good fit’, as if the creation of hours of your toil is nothing more than a cheap, badly-fitting suit. I don’t think there’s a perfect algorithm for determining how valuable those rare nuggets of editorial opinion are, because ultimately they are just that: opinions.  

What advice do you have for novice writers?

It’s very important to open your eyes. If you intend to become a literary writer and a true artist, then keen observation of worldly phenomena is mandatory. Travel, wide-reading and accumulation of diverse knowledge are other prerequisites. Reading is particularly important, because without a sense of how the best practitioners use language to communicate their visions, your writing won’t go far. A writer whose own reading is impoverished is unlikely to say anything worth remembering.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

The five senses, imagination and language.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.)

My body of work can be found at

http://titusgreenfiction.com/

Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?

Not at this time. I am very grateful for their interest in my work.

Interview with Author Thomas Elson

Thomas Elson’s short stories, poetry, and flash fiction have been published in numerous venues such as Calliope, The Cabinet of Heed, New Feathers, Pinyon, Lunaris, New Ulster, Lampeter, Selkie, and Adelaide. He divides his time between Northern California and Western Kansas.   


What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?

Even after all these years, my greatest accomplishment is being published for the first time

Why do you write?

I come from a family of Irish storytellers and photographers. As a child I listened to  stories associated with those photographs that grew from snap-shots into fully-developed lives, e.g. an older conservative woman in her 80’s who was a flapper in the 1920’s and the photograph of her in flapper attire; a photograph of three men standing by a county lake and what their stance reveals about their relationship; or an old man and his grandson on a coastline and how that reveals their life together.


What is your writing process? (Any favorite places to write? Any interesting quirks, traditions, or rituals you may have? How many times might you revise something before being satisfied with it? Besides, you, does anyone else edit your work? Etc.)

I usually write the story in one fell swoop, then rewrite it 10-12 times, after which I turn it over to two beta readers, review their suggestions, and revise again. All this takes place in a back room of the house at an old kitchen table with a laptop and  an IBM-style keyboard and Rossini overtures blaring in the background.

Your two stories published in The Chamber (“Not Yet” and “A Cell in Motion”) seem to be very intense, very personal inside views of the main character. You seem to be getting inside their minds. How do you come up with these viewpoints? How do you imagine being in their metaphorical shoes?

My process is to be with the characters in that particular setting either as a participant or an observer who hears what they hear, smells what they smell, and hurts when they hurt. To me it’s neither a “metaphor” nor an “as if” situation; it’s being with them. After I experience it with them, I write about it.

Do you have anyone (friends, relatives, etc.) review your works before you publish them?

I have two beta readers who review my work.


Could you give us an idea of your upcoming works without spoiling anything?

I have about fifteen short works and two novels near completion.

What do you hope to achieve as a writer?

To be able to continue what I have wanted to do since the age of twenty four: to write the stories of life’s dramatic interventions and folks’ reactions to them; to take a bunch of words I have tossed onto a page and mold them into a story with emotion and impact.

What do you think of rejections and criticism? Are they helpful or harmful to you?

Any editor who takes the time to critique a story of mine, then takes the additional time to reduce that critique to writing is an immediate friend of mine. Some of my most significant growth as a writer has come from critiques contained in rejection letters.

What advice do you have for novice writers?

I can’t really give advice, but what I did as a beginning writer was to read:

  • Willa Cather who taught me how to write about the land I came from.
  • Annie Proulx who takes flat, dull people and transforms them into vibrant characters.
  • Mary Karr who taught me I could write about the people I grew up with.
  • Daniel Woodrell who shows emotions through the characters’ behaviors.
  • Alice Munro who taught me the smallest of things in the smallest of towns have large lives.
  • Margaret Attwood and her skill of injecting life and elfin-like humor into the gravest situations.
  • Molls Giles and her ability to take someone sitting on a porch and make it a breathing story.
  • Tania Hershman who can take an upright piano and transform it into a reflection of someone’s life.

What do you feel are the most important resources a writer can use?

My most useful resources are Writer’s Digest articles and the website, Helping Writers Become Authors, and Literary Hub.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing? (websites, social media, etc.) 

I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn, but the best way is to google “Thomas Elson – author”.