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5 Creative Questions with… Ainy Cormac

Ainy Cormac is a dark fantasy and science fiction author. Spec fic writers in Australia often know each other because, I suppose, we're all lurking in the same big stew (come in, the water's fine!). He said some things about a recently published work of mine (I Hope the Night is Quiet, in Castle of Horror Anthology Volume 11: Revenge) that made me feel certain he'd grappled with the text on a deeper level; he'd understood my fixation with the strangeness of small towns, and the weird sorts of things kids tend to notice. The same way artists get within centimeters of paintings and peer at them galleries, I believe writers tend to look at the machinery of each other's stories, to see the zippers, the wires and the cogs that turn.


Like a Costco worker or cursed frogurt merchant Ainy wishes for you to sample his wares for free. So I did just that — by signing up for his newsletter, as you can through his website, you can have some short stories for the low, low price of zero dollars. I read Mother, as the premise was irresistible. Combine the person who is supposed to be, as Yann Martel puts it, "the sun above you" with a creeping feeling of wrongness and what do you get? Essentially — brothers in a troubled, broken home are initially perplexed by their mother's abrupt change in appearance and demeanor. It sure seems she's not the woman she used to be. Is this new version of their mother a lot better, or significantly worse? The story brought to mind such disparate things as Peeling by Peter Carey; the cloth mother vs wire mother experiments; and Goosebumps paperback The Horror at Camp Jellyjam.


Ainy Cormac. Photo: supplied


Ainy Cormac is the 37th in my series of creatives to take five questions.


When my creative process is stuck, I reach for... a different medium or program: Scrivener, word, fountain pen. Generally that kicks me around enough to get back into gear.


I also reach for Writing into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith or The Pursuit of Perfection by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Both of these (really short) books have helped to get me back into writing whenever I've gotten stuck. They're like a breath of fresh air when that panic sets in. I think a lot of writer's block comes down to trying to create the "perfect book" — which doesn't exist or thinking about product and end result first. These books remind me to consider my character and their wants and needs and just write the next sentence, whatever the next logical thing might be, rather than think about the story as an end product on a shelf or being reviewed by someone who will rip it to shreds.


I like to chase the heat of the story, and write wherever I feel that urge and vibe, even if it's not in chronological order. That helps too, as I'm writing something "new" without jumping into a whole new project and abandoning the old.


Also, I fiddle about with digital art which helps takes my mind off writing better than anything else. My art is not great, but it works as medicine.


The weirdest thing about being a creative human is... the panic and urge to keep creating. Once you start it's hard to stop, and there is always a feeling that I could or should be making something. This looming spectre of productivity can get a bit much at times, and I have to remind myself to just chill.


I am reminded sometimes by my wife that I don't have to do any of it right now, and I can take a break. The realisation always hits me anew.


The most unusual object in my house is... a coprolite I bought maybe 12 years ago. I was buying different fossils and stuff, trilobites and bits like that. But then I found this coprolite. For a piece of fossilised poo it's surprisingly beautiful. I don't know what the creature ate, but it's gorgeous.


I celebrate my achievements by... buying a nice hardcover edition of a book I love. I think that's the ritual I'm getting into. Better than slamming a bottle of scotch in celebration haha. My latest was buying a special edition of Tolkien's Unfinished Tales. I also celebrate by spamming Instagram with memes and reels related to the book.


Something in the world that already exists that I wish I had created is... This question stumped me and stopped me answering these questions for like a week. Then I saw other people have had trouble with it too. I think that's the sign of a good question: something that stops you and makes you think and reassess, maybe even struggle. Rather than have a formulated answer that will lead to a predictable conversation. So my answer is the question you just asked, Claire. I wish I'd come up with that question and stumped someone as well as you have.


Find out more about Ainy Cormac on his website Welcome (ainycormac.com) and follow him on Instagram Ainy Cormac (@ainycormac) • Instagram photos and videos. Subscribe to his mailing list to receive free short stories.

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