We speak with Remastered Words 2017 winner, Stephen Frame, and find out some about him, his writing and ‘The Phone’. He began writing some seven years ago influenced by the likes of Stephen King, Joe Abercrombie, Harlan Ellison and Howard Waldrop, amongst others. Living and working in the far north of Scotland he enjoys writing fantasy in his spare time.
How long have you been writing for and what first got you interested in the art?
I’ve been writing for about seven years now. As a life-long reader, it did occur to me from time to time to give writing a go. It was just that I didn’t know how. I recall reading a novel that was so awful but had still managed to get into print and I thought why not me? That got me interested in how you go about putting together a novel, so I set myself the challenge of finding out. I read a couple of books on writing to get a handle on the basics then just sat down with the laptop and began writing.
What memorable stories have you read that prompted you to continue writing and why?
Howard Waldrop’s short stories, “The Ugly Chickens” and “A Dozen Tough Jobs”, for the cleverness of the ideas behind them and the richness of the language and voice. “The Stand” by Stephen King, epic in scale but rooted in the lives of his characters, his craft as a story-teller is inspirational. “Jeffty Is Five” by Harlan Ellison, one of the most haunting and evocative stories I’ve ever read, thats the way I want to be able to write.
Tell us about what inspired you to write this winning piece?
It was a collison of two ideas. I grew up around people who had lived through the Second World War but now it feels like a part of history. From that, I wondered what would happen if someone from the future could talk to someone who was in the war as it happened. The second half of the idea came from watching an episode of Bargain Hunt on TV. A 1940’s telephone was up for auction and it just struck me. Imagine you bought such a thing, took it home and it started to ring. What would you do?
Who is your favourite character in the story or your favourite part and why?
I like the antique collector, Stielin. He’s a gentle soul who finds himself challenged in a way he never imagines but he still rises to with what courage he has. Writing the part where the phone first rings was a lot of fun. Have you ever tried to ignore a ringing phone? Even one that should be impossible?
Have you had anything published before and how has this competition boosted your confidence for the future?
I’ve had four short stories published to date, including one in “Judge Dredd: The Megazine”. For a comics fan-boy, thats fairly close to perfection. I had a short piece published by Scottish Book Trust last year, that was included in a free book distributed to libraries, schools and bookshops across Scotland. That was a proud moment. Remastered Words has given me a huge boost. To have a group of established writers say yes to your work is so important.
How did it feel when you were shortlisted and were then notified of being one of the winners?
Were short-lists specifically designed to make writers feel pleased and anxious at the same time? Elated when I found out I was one of the winners, then very satisfied, then it occurred to me I need to keep writing to that standard or better all the time…
Where did you here about Remastered Words and what made you enter this competition in particular?
I heard about Remastered Words just through googling writing competitions. The competition suited the genre I write in and it sounded like a very interesting project.
What can we expect from you in the future in terms of writing?
I’m working on a novel about a young woman who finds a odd bookshop run by a very urbane orc in a city that might be Edinburgh. I’ve got a couple of short story ideas on the go as well. A farmer who literally has the neighbours from Hell and a private detective who lives in a future that might be ours, where the gig economy has gotten slightly out of hand…
‘The Phone’ will be available soon in the release of our 2017 audio anthology.