Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Lily Childs/Pixie J. King Interview

Pixie J. King, at just 16 years old has given some of us older - but not necessarily more mature writers a kick up the backside. Her writing is dark yet insightful with topics and twists that take the reader by surprise. I was proud to invite this aspiring thriller writer into The Feardom to hear about what makes her tick.

"He wondered why the alphabet blocks spell out the words ‘hurt’ and ‘pain’. He wondered why she cried herself to sleep every night. He questioned why there is a shiny object from the kitchen on the bed. He wanted to know why she is using it to cut her wrists."

From What Ted Saw (c) Pixie J. King


Lily Childs: Welcome to The Feardom Pixie, I’ll jump straight in. Your writing touches on subjects darker than what might be expected of a young girl about to leave school for college. Where do your ideas come from?

Pixie J. King: I don’t really know, to be honest; anything that happens to pop into my head.

I take something, chew it up in my head and spit it out into a story. I’ll take ideas from anywhere - TV, music, lyrics, newspapers (when I can be bothered to read them), personal experiences, my fears and just the general madness that I call my brain.

I Can Fly was taken from a music video. A Date was taken from a newspaper article I read over my mum’s shoulder in the hairdressers. In The Woods came from a P.E. lesson… in the woods. And Swirls of Wonder came about after a really bad day at school. It’s funny really, that my first piece of writing to be published was because of a bully.
"‘I’m gunna fly mama, I’m gunna show them and I’m gunna fly.’ He moved back inside and grabbed his helmet and goggles."

"He felt the kart move downwards, felt a rush of the wind against his face as gravity clawed at his body. His fingers tightened around the steering wheel, knuckles white."

From 'I Can Fly' by Pixie J. King (c)
LC: What drives you to write, and what stops you from doing the mundane chores of life?

PJK: English, ironically. For me it is the most boring subject to sit through. When you have a teacher that kind of looks like Dracula (sorry sir if you read this…) and you’ve done all the work, then the notebook and pencil comes out and I just write.

It’s often school work, coursework, and exams that stop me writing. I don’t actually do any chores, since I’m far too spoilt and far too lazy. It’s my own fault really.

LC: I think school work, course work and exams at 16 are a perfectly reasonable excuse for getting distracted from writing, Pix. I'm sure you'll do fabulously well - those of us who know you from Writers' News online forum Talkback have seen how hard you work.

LC: According to your biog, in ten years time you hope to be a Forensic Scientist. What are you doing right now to get to that place?

PJK: Well, I did originally want to be a forensic scientist, but now I can’t decide between forensic science, forensic psychology or computer forensics. At GCSE level, I took Triple Science as an option which allows me to have each of the three separate sciences: Biology, Chemistry and Physics as independent GCSEs. At A Level, I am planning on taking Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and IT for my options so when I decide what I want to do I can have the qualifications to do it. [LC: Very wise PJ]

I watch a lot of forensic type shows, too: NCIS, CSI:NY, CSI: Miami, Bones and loads of other shows. NCIS is my favourite, really. I just like Gibbs…

LC: On the same subject, it’s one thing to write horror and thrillers but another to dissect bodies in real life and deal with varying stages of decaying flesh. How will you cope with that?

PJK: If I were to do forensic science, then yes I would have to deal with decaying bodies at crime scenes but I'd never want to be a pathologist who deals with dissecting bodies, as I would puke! I think I’d rather be in a laboratory analysing results than out on the field. Though at the moment I’m leaning towards forensic psychology so no decaying bodies there. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not entirely sure which field of expertise I want to get into yet.

LC: We’re reminded of the TV series ‘Bones’ which I believe you adore. Do you relate to the main character Temperance Brennan, herself a fictional manifestation of the actual author Kathy Reichs? Are you inspired by them? How? Why?

PJK: Haha, I love Brennan. I haven’t actually watched Bones for ages; I just haven’t had the time what with exams and coursework and all the tripe that comes with finishing Year 11 of school. But yeah, I guess I do sort of relate to Temperance Brennan humour wise, and how she is so driven with her work. She is very intelligent in her field. Am I inspired by her? I would have to say no.

I think I am more inspired by Abby Sciuto in NCIS because Pauley Perrette the actress who plays Abby is actually a qualified forensic scientist, so she knows what she is talking about. She cracks me up too. Without the gothic attitude and look, I could see me as her, so she inspires me in that way.

LC: On a lighter note you’re a big Girls Aloud fan. What do they and their music mean to you?

PJK: Their music means the world to me. They make me happy, and have actually gotten me out of depression so many times. To listen to their music gives me great joy.

To me, they are a good role model of dreams. Each girl had a dream of becoming a singer and performer in front of thousands of people in big arenas, putting on a spectacle for their fans. They went on a talent show to do that, and seven years down the line, love them or loathe them, they have achieved so much. They achieved their dreams and stopped at nothing to get there. They have the determination to do it.

Also, during their career, they’ve received a lot of crap from the media but they’ve pulled through it and become stronger. I’ve done the same with being bullied. I’ve been following them since I was around nine years old, so I’ve grown up with them. For me, it’s just one big journey. I’ve had the privilege to see them live twice now, and they DO put on a show for their fans and better themselves each tour - and go through hell to do it. Same for me, I like to write good stories each time and better them if I can.

LC: Back to the slog. All writers struggle at times to find their flow. What works well for you and what holds you back?

PJK: I just write. I had a block a couple of months ago that was seriously getting me down. So to cure it I just wrote anything. Fortunately it was the Easter holiday break and I managed to write two stories which got published on Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers.

What really stops me, apart from education, is my confidence and editing. I cannot edit to save my life. I often have writers that I trust to go over my work especially Creative Writing advisor A J Humpage. I owe most of the success of my writing to her as she is happy to cast an eye over my work and tell me where I’m going wrong. Since we first met, I have learnt so much about writing.

I am constantly learning. I know I don’t know it all, and I don’t think you do at any stage of writing. Writing is just one big apprenticeship and it never ends.

LC: Wise words Pixie. Confidence is key. That you ask others you trust to critique or cast an eye over your writing is great. I expect many authors feel themselves ‘above’ this. It’s their loss. To me, this shows that you understand that writers are forever learning - whether they're mere beginners (sometimes those filled with the most unique ideas and freshest approach) or old hacks - even those who think they know it all.

LC: We've already discussed that you’re a member of Talkback, the online writers’ forum from the UK’s Writing Magazine and Writers News, which of course is where we ‘met’. How has being part of such a community helped you as a writer? Have you ever joined other online groups, or writing circles at school or in the area where you live?

PJK: To put it bluntly, without Writers’ Talkback I would not be published. I would just be a 16 year old girl trying to write. My writing has grown so much since I first joined.

I have met some amazing people, such as Col Bury who I owe the first rung of the ladder to for publishing my stories on TKnC. Without Lee Hughes, I wouldn’t be about to be having something published in an anthology.

It is such a great community and I have so many special friends; I feel privileged to be a part of it. I have joined Six Sentences, too. Sadly, no writing circles where I live though…

LC: You blog over at (which incidentally Googles top if you enter Pixie J. King), you tweet, you are now a regular over at Matt Hilton’s Thrillers Killers ‘n’ Chillers and you have had acceptances of your work elsewhere. What do you feel are your biggest writing successes to date?

PJK: Being published, with Swirls of Wonder over on TKnC. I remember waking up, dreading an English Language exam I had that morning, got the email and I remember going crazy on my bedroom floor, bearing in mind I’m trying to get dressed for school. That for me is a big big achievement. It just proved I can write.

Winning Talkback's monthly One Word Challenge too, with my poem Dead Girl Walking was a huge achievement, a year of trying finally rewarded. But I think my biggest achievement is actually finishing my first ever story, Wild Rose. Still dark, and so many mistakes that it will probably never see the light of day unless it has a major rewrite. It’s around 6000 words took me a week to write, coming home after school and just writing. It was inspired by a song, too. But it got me writing and I haven’t looked back since. Being published in an anthology is good too, haha.

"...My heart is empty
My blood sucked away
Like my soul was,
I’m just a pale, lifeless freak
Who has no emotion left

You can’t hurt me anymore
When there is nothing left to hurt.
You have raped me of my life
Made my days unbearable.
The walls are closing in on me
There is nothing left to prove..."
Excerpt from Dead Girl Walking (c) Pixie J. King
LC: You’ve said you hate liars and bullies. Does this fuel your writing?

PJK: Yes, definitely. There is nothing more on this Earth I hate than a liar and a bully. I’ve been bullied a fair bit in the last five years, especially since my writing came out in year 11. The most notable pieces I’ve wrote as a result of bullying have to be my flash fiction of Swirls of Wonder, which came from a bad day of school, and my poem Dead Girl Walking.

With Swirls of Wonder, I was deeply missing someone, so I was vulnerable. I kept getting abusive comments, leading me to break down several times. I came home after school and just wrote – and that’s what came out.

Dead Girl Walking came out of depression, and was basically about how I deeply felt about my bullies, and I faced them in a way I knew how.

I don't know if anyone has lied to me so I guess it hasn’t fueled my writing as such, but I still can’t stand them. At all. Perhaps a story for the future? Who knows. See what takes my fancy, or who messes with me.

LC: Thank you for sharing such an emotional experience with us. I'm really glad you can use your writing to kick ass - it's great therapy!

LC: What’s around the corner for Pixie J. King?

PJK: Well, I am very slowly trying to write my own novel. Although with all these exams, finding time to even write flash fiction is hard, let alone get some solid progress on my novel. But apart from my piece Swirls of Wonder being due to be published in an anthology, not a lot really. I haven’t had a chance to get my writing further than it has.

Now that my education isslowing to a more relaxed pace, I can focus on trying to write some more; submit things. I am trying to set up a website for myself, too. So all I can say is watch this space, because this Pixie is coming at you…

LC: I'm glad to hear it. There's a great voice in there Pixie. We look forward to the next shout.
Interview with permission of K. Cocksedge.
Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.