Meet K.A. Mckeagney, judge of the short stories (adults) category

K.A. MCKEAGNEY is one of our amazing panel of judges kindly volunteering their time to support our charity writing competition. She completed an MA in creative writing at Brunel and won the Curtis Brown prize for her dissertation, which formed the basis of her first novel, Tubing.

Tubing has been described as “A highly original thriller with a fantastic hook! … a gripping and racy read, with plenty of shocks to be had along the journey.” (Sam Carrington). She is currently working on her second novel.

 

What writing projects are you working on at the moment?

Currently I’m working on book two. Well I say working on, but in reality I’m procrastinating over it. It’s all plotted out in my head and just needs to be poured out onto the page. It’s an erotic thriller about polyamory. I love writing thrillers and I’m thoroughly enjoying delving into such a contentious issue. Monogamy is so ingrained in our society that the very notion of multiple partners is often judged even when all involved are happy with the situation. I’m hoping to turn the concept of monogamy on its head.

I’m also working on a screenplay of my first novel, Tubing. I’m currently working closely with a producer and we’re hoping we can get it onto the big screen!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers/poets?

Write about what really captures your imagination, what you feel passionate about, whatever really gets you excited. You can’t fake that enthusiasm – it’s the magic that really lifts the words and ideas off the page and into the reader’s mind. I’ve been given so much advice about writing, about what and how to write, and for whom, but unless I’m really feeling it, it doesn’t translate and has none of the energy good writing should have.

My advice is pour everything out onto the page and get it in the shape you want it to be in before showing it to anyone. Definitely listen to advice, but only make changes if you feel they are right. And find a good editor – they should work with you to make your vision the best it can possibly be.

Can you describe your writing/creative process?

I do a lot of day dreaming, people watching and eavesdropping. It’s often in those moments when I drift off into the noise around me that the ideas come. Once I have an idea I let my mind wander, taking it through all different kinds of scenarios. I think of myself more as a storyteller than a writer; it’s the narrative that excites me, not necessarily the words. The inspiration is the fun bit – I love it; committing it to paper is when the hard work starts. I like to plot the story out in my head first then purge it onto the page. The first draft is always terrible, but with a lot of re-reading and finessing, it starts to take shape – it’s all about the edit.

Which poets or writers inspire you most?

The writer who has inspired me most is Roald Dahl. As a child I loved his books, the characters and stories were so funny and he was always on the side of the kid. As an adult I discovered his short stories, they are so clever and compelling. I can’t think of another author who has made the crossover from adult to children’s fiction so successfully. Now I have children of my own, I’m back to reading the kids’ books again. They’ve really stood the test of time as my kids enjoy them as much as I did.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve always written. As a kid I was always making up stories and telling them to my brother or writing them down. At age nine, I won my first short story writing competition, it was about the word ‘yes’ being stolen from the English language. Once I got to my teenage years I wrote a lot of very bad angst ridden poetry. After university, I floated about for a few years not really knowing what to do, then I started my Masters at Brunel which really focussed my mind on writing. Then by chance, I landed myself a job in medical publishing which really helped me hone my skills, writing features to very short deadlines.

Writing is very much a part of who I am. If I’m not writing or making up stories, I feel like something is missing. I also take great comfort in it. Writing often helps me work things through in my own mind, but then at other times it’s been a very handy distraction technique. My granddad wrote a lot for amateur dramatics and my uncle was published, so I guess it’s in my blood.

 

Find out more details about our 25th Birthday Writing Competition.