Monday, 29 March 2021

Murder and Machinery: An Interview with Robert Bagnall

Robert Bagnall's "Driverless" is just one of the mad mechanical tales featured in Murder and Machinery. Out April the 3rd. Kindle pre-orders available now.

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

1. Fat Boy Slim one asked me whether I had a football – I didn’t.

2. The now-defunct satirical magazine ‘Punch’ has owed me a bottle of whisky for over thirty years for a ‘Letter of the Week’.

3.  The make-up artists apart, I was the first person to see the ‘dead’ Inspector Morse: John Thaw was coming out of make-up as I—an unused extra—was going in.

What drew you to this particular theme?

Not sure I ever write about themes; to me, they’re things you see after the event, like Jesus in a piece of toast. I was curious where these characters would take me. Not to particularly pleasant places in this case, as I found out.

What’s the most frightening machine for you personally?

Being amaxophobic, the car.

Which short story authors or authors in the horror genre inspire you?

I was given, aged ten or so, a book of short horror stories for a Christmas or birthday. ‘The Red Room’ by HG Wells made a huge impression on me; I still cite it as my favourite short story.

Do you have a favourite story about machines, other than The Pit and the Pendulum?

Is it cheating to cite my own ‘Product Recall’ (Flash Fiction Online, and Best of British Science Fiction 2017)? – an unrequited love story between a fridge and a robotic floor polisher.

What does your editing process look like? 

Normally driven by panic over boiling a story down to the necessary word count, but of late far more controlled since I discovered ‘The 10% Solution’ by Ken Rand.

Do you write everything and then edit or do you meticulously plan before you write? 

Short stories are often like jokes – you know what the punch line needs to be and you write until you get there. Longer pieces, yes, I do plan, although they are rarely stuck to religiously.

What are you working on now?

Applying Ken Rand’s ‘The 10% Solution’ to all the stories that have almost got through the transom, but never quite make the final cut.

Where can we find you online?

Thanks, Robert!