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Adults Only teaser: Q&A with Sean Mayne

13. Sean Mayne web picJoanne Hichens – editor of the Adults Only, the second annual Short.Sharp.Stories Awards anthology – interviews Sean Mayne. His story “Bring On The Clowns” won the Judges Choice Award for Loudest Laugh.

Sean Mayne started his writing career as a travelling salesman, meaning he can fib straight-faced with the best of them. This, together with an inclination for daydreaming, means he is perfectly suited to the world of fiction. He currently writes newsletters persuading people to purchase things they don’t really need. The few times he was actively employed he disappeared into the internet, only to pop up in disguise as a friendly troll on his boss’s dime. (In fact, if you need someone to run your company at a loss for tax purposes, he’s your man.)

Your story “Bring on the Clowns” was described by the judges as a “belly-laugh, a feel good read that offers the luxury of laughing out loud…” Did you purposefully go the route of humour?

Regarding the erotica theme, I chose the humorous route to avoid frightening my wife, Kim, with the reality of what goes through the average male mind.

And now that you are not only a published, but a prize-winning writer of ‘erotica’ – your story came in second to Nick Mulgrew’s “Turning” – how does Kim feel about that?

Unfortunately, she won’t let me run for head of the Porn Writers Guild of South Africa, which is a shame. She didn’t even know I had entered the competition until you told me I was a finalist, Joanne, so I have been getting the skeef eye since, like What else are you going to spring on me, dude?

I still have difficulty explaining to friends (and family) that I am not a porn writer per se. I just write according to whatever the theme is. Yeah sure.

Has Kim turned you into a sex toy now that she knows what you’re obsessed with?

Well, she has always liked candles, so hot wax was the logical next step. I’m going to be in trouble for saying that. I mean I hope I am going to be in trouble for saying that. Just last night I was whipped for making eye contact while I was doing the ironing, so I’m interested to see why she has ordered me to bring jumper-lead cables home tonight.

Heh heh. And for you, was it a surprise of sorts? To be a prize-winner?

It was a complete surprise as this was my first story ever. I must admit it took me a long time to write, over 6 weeks. I am also a slow reader because I like to go over bits that I enjoy. I suppose that certain stories will not appeal to everyone and that there is a bit of luck involved regards the judges’ tastes. Winning a prize has made me focus on finding more time to write, but I think I need to take some lessons. Professor Google gives useful tips, but I’m such a bloody beginner.

But you did it, you wrote and sent in a story!

My five cents for anyone hoping to get published in Short.Sharp.Stories is to at least buy the book. It helps to examine what the finalists have produced and it also gives an insight to how the judges may see things.

What inspired you to write “Bring on the Clowns”? How did the story evolve?

My starting point was a block of flats. For some reason I associate people living in close proximity with voyeurism, probably because even though they are neighbours they are still mostly strangers. I battle to walk past an apartment window without sneaking a peek. What are people up to? Why is number seven’s door open? Who’s that in the shower? Hey, don’t call the police, it’s only me from number three!

Many years ago a friend told me how his builder did some ‘accidental’ building work. I love stories like that because they immediately make you picture an outcome – in this case the neighbours face as he arrives home to see the changes. I shelved that incident in the back of my mind and when I contemplated the theme of Adults Only it came in use. I focused on voyeurism because it’s so prevalent over the internet these days, so I’ve heard. And I like absurdity in a story, where the reader is not quite sure whether they are supposed to take the yarn seriously or not.

Were you purposefully wanting to ‘send up’ erotica?

I created a really seedy character who fancies himself as honourable, but in reality is a scaly little weasel. His attempt to get closer to the woman next door takes a turn after an ‘unfortunate’ incident. Or was it all an accident?

I kept things subtle, and because I’m not a Lindsay Clarke or Barbara Kingsolver, I wrote within my means, which is a bit of absurdity spiked with odd-ball humour: perfect for a send up of erotica. I had no idea how the yarn would end, so I played around with a couple of scenarios until one fit.

So what’s next for you?

My next step is to write more short stories. Short story writers I look up to include Darrel Bristow-Bovey, Garrison Keillor and Ellen Gilchrist. I can read all of their work again and again and that is my measure for a good story. My go-to guy for inspiration is David Sedaris, but unfortunately he makes it look so easy.

I also have a rough draft complete of a novella set in Pietersburg (the pre-Polokwane town that liked to call itself a city) around 1989. I was a sloppy chef in the Far North army intelligence base there and I feel I witnessed (and caused) enough buffoonery to write about it. Besides, ‘army intelligence’ is an oxymoron that needs some dismantling.

As long as you keep us laughing, Sean…

Adults Only

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