Meet the Nethergate Writers – David Carson

Here’s the third part of our occasional series of Q&As, where we get to know a little about the members of the Nethergate Writers.

This time, it’s our Chair, David Carson.


1. How long have you been a writer?
Most pen-to-paper activities are writing in its broadest sense. I’ve been doing that from an early age – letters, memos, papers on subjects connected with my work in education. But I’ve only been attempting serious imaginative writing since I retired a number of years ago.

2. Have you had anything published?
When I was about ten years old, I entered a competition run by a Glasgow newspaper. The task was to write a story about “my pet dog”. To my surprise, I won, and my wee story duly appeared in the paper. The thing is, I didn’t have a dog, or indeed a pet of any kind at that time. So maybe that’s where my interest in fiction began!

I’ve had stories in seven of the Nethergate Writers books, but since these are to all intents and purposes self-published, by the group, I’m not sure that they count.

3. Do you have a writing routine?
No, but I have a thinking one. I often drop off to sleep in bed going over possible plots and characters that could become stories. The problem is that I’ve usually forgotten them come the morning.

4. Who is your literary hero or heroine?
I particularly admire Alice Munro. I think she’s unsurpassed as a short story writer. I also enjoy any book about the outdoors – Robert McFarlane is a fantastic writer – and especially about Scotland and its mountains. Mountaineering in Scotland by W. H. Murray, and The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd are particular favourites that I read at least once a year.

I recently came across a trilogy of novels by Kent Haruf, and was bowled over. And I very much enjoy the novels of Helen Dunmore and Sebastian Barry.

David, hard at work.

5. Do you prefer working in a particular genre?
Apart from the occasional stab at poetry (usually with a blunt instrument!), I have only written short stories and, more often, bits of short stories.

6. Do you have any writing ambitions?
I keep hoping that practice will make, if not perfect, at least for an improving ability to create some memorable characters in interesting and unusual situations.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
To give advice implies a degree of expertise – so I will limit myself to suggesting two things – to take notes of what you hear and see (and read) in your daily life and routine; and to not be intimidated by the blank sheet of paper in front of you. Write, then revise.

8. What are you reading at the moment?
Now that I have more time, I’m becoming a bit of a profligate reader. Apart from an almost daily dose of Ralph Storer’s many guides to the Scottish Munros, I’m enjoying The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, Herring Tales by Donald S. Murray, Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy and collected short stories entitled Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami. And also a memoir by the Australian author Tim Winton.

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