Short Stories by Freya Pickard

Author Freya Pickard on Writing Short Stories & Dragons

Today we have a special guest in the house! Freya Pickard is the writer behind the blogs Pure Haiku and Dragonscale Clippings, both of which I highly recommend. When Freya recently published a collection of short stories titled The Rusalka Ritual and Other Stories (Dragonscale Dimensions Book 1), I asked her here for an author interview and she graciously accepted the invitation. I admire Freya for many reasons, including her quirky yet lovable writing style and her determination to publish her newest book after facing chemotherapy. So, without further ado, let’s put on the coffee pot and catch up with Freya Pickard.

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Hi Freya and welcome to Poetic Parfait! I’m happy to interview you about your first short story collection. Congratulations! To start, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing books?

Greetings, Earthlings! I’m a novelist, poet and cancer survivor with one novel, and one short story collection published to date! I have always written, ever since my mother taught me to write before I started school. From an early age I produced poetry and stories but when I turned 17, I began writing novels seriously. They were all rubbish but in my mid-twenties I started producing tales that were non-generic and therefore difficult to place with a publisher. Since having gone through cancer, I have realised how little time we have here on this planet and am therefore publishing my work myself.

I love that you have chosen to pursue your publishing dreams, regardless of whether it meets a traditional publisher’s expectations or not. I’m curious, why did you choose the short story format for your latest book?

I chose to publish a short story collection because I have had a number of short stories published over the years, including some about Dracomagan. I found that convincing editors to publish my tales about a female dragon slayer very difficult; it seems that a lot of editors do not share my sense of humour, whereas readers loved the tales and “got” the humour. So, in order to show different aspects of Dracomagan’s character, I chose 5 tales from those that had previously been published for this collection.

I wanted to make people aware that she develops as a character. For instance, in my novel, Dragonscale Leggings, Dracomagan vows never to be interested in men again. But, in A Picnic At Knole, in the collection, she is married to a guy named Peagreen. She doesn’t stay as she is in Dragonscale Leggings, she grows up (a bit) and changes, just as we all do with time. I enjoy writing short stories because they allow me to give my readers insights into events that happen outside of the main novels.

Wow, such a unique way to tell your fanbase more about Dracomagan! Your creativity is shining through in each answer you’ve given me in this interview. So, tell me, Freya, who do you think would enjoy reading The Rusalka Ritual and Other Stories?

Short Story Writer Freya Pickard

Author in the House: Freya Pickard

Ah! You’re asking me to put The Rusalka Ritual & Other Stories into a definite genre. I hate being categorized! I write from the heart, not for a specific market! However, this collection has been marketed under the YA Fantasy genre but to be honest, anyone who enjoys stories about strong female characters will enjoy the collection.

My readers are diverse, ranging from those in their 20s to those in their 80s. They are male and female and of all colours and cultures. If you like something quirky or just a bit different, you will love the collection.

Four of the tales are set in the Otherworld and one is set in this world. The two worlds merge and sometimes get mixed up; I believe this is called cross-over fiction? I prefer to call it speculative fiction and would really love to be known as a speculative writer!

I’m all for strong female leads in fiction (and in real life)! I have to say that I’m curious about the title of your book. Can you tell us a bit of the backstory about it?

I am very proud of the title! I love alliteration and think this works so well, not just for the individual story, but for the collection as well. A few years ago I had been reading fairy tales about water spirits and had lots of ideas surging around in my mind. I decided to enter the last Golden Visions short story competition and had to write a story around a picture of a vast sea with two moons above it and several islands. I was pleased to see the water because it enabled one of the ideas swimming round in my head to come to the fore.

I cannot remember exactly how the idea coalesced. (Sorry, I know people like to know how writers write, but I’ve found that if I think about it too much or analyse it, I lose my creative ability!) But somehow I found myself writing a story about some particularly evil water faeries. I chose the name Rusalka, because the obvious names such as selkie and undine were too well known. Rusalka is a Russian water demon who fitted the character I’d invented perfectly. The story didn’t win the competition (mine never do!) but it was published along with the winning entries because the judges found it so unusual!

By now I’m sure readers are wondering more about your writing life. What is your writing routine like, Freya? Have you varied it over the years?

Writing routine? What’s that?! It all depends on what day job I have at any time, what’s happening in my life and how healthy I am. Right now, I get one day of writing a week, 6 hours on a Monday. At the moment I’m mainly formatting manuscripts for publication and re-writing novels etc so they can be formatted.

The only new writing I do are short form poems as the trauma of having cancer and surgery and enduring 6 months of chemotherapy has taken its toll on my creativity. However, I have learnt to write anywhere at anytime in any circumstances and always, always carry a notebook and several pens with me wherever I go.

I do the same thing, carrying pen and paper with me; you never know when a new idea will strike. What are your future writing goals?

My future writing goals are to get everything published that I’ve already written (there’s a lot, it may take a few years) and also to complete and publish a 9-book fantasy series dealing with racial identity, racism and how the use of magic effects the user on both a spiritual and cellular level.

I almost spilled my coffee when you said “9-book fantasy series.” That’s a big goal, and I’m all for it! You know I’ll be wanting to read it too. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers of the short story format? If so, can you please share one or two?

My main advice for aspiring short story writers would be to write from the heart. Never allow anyone to tell you what or how you should be writing. If I had obeyed my creative writing teachers at college, I would be churning out the same boring thing over and over again. Be different. Be inventive. Don’t be afraid to take risks in your writing. And if editors don’t “get” your writing, don’t give up; publish it yourself!

Wonderful! I appreciate what you say about not stopping writing because editors don’t “get” you. I, for one, am glad you continue to write. Thank you for being with us today!

Quote about Risks in Writing

Freya Pickard Encourages Taking Risks as a Writer

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Here is an opening paragraph from “Echo Peak,” the first story in the collection:

“The shadows were long and blue in the biscuit-coloured dust when we left. We didn’t wake Uncle. I knew he wouldn’t let me go on this particular journey. Dracomagan gave me the choice, but really, there was no choice; to meet the man who killed my parents, to look into his eyes and see, maybe remorse, or at least sorrow at leaving me an orphan…”

If you like dragons, fictional worlds that never cease to amaze you, and one-of-a-kind writing, then The Rusalka Ritual & Other Stories (Dragonscale Dimensions Book 1) is a book you will want to read.

You can also connect with Freya Pickard at FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedIn, YouTubeSpillwords, and Patrion.

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49 thoughts on “Author Freya Pickard on Writing Short Stories & Dragons

    1. Christy B Post author

      Hehe, I read a book last month that I gave 2 stars… so we will see 😉 For the most part I do find that the books I choose are high quality so they are typically at least 3 stars. Hope you have a great weekend ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. melouisef

        My friends giggle at my reviews on Goodreads but really… Michael Connelly had this lawyer in the Lincoln Lawyer who worked out of his car, an excellent story and then lol and behold john Grisham also started with a lawyer working from his car. shame on you Grisham. And so I can give you 101 examples of copycats. One book starts with The Girl… and not long the copycats also follow. How unoriginal. One star for this kind of thing. Or maybe we are now so used to reading rubbish like Gone Girl we have lost our ability to judge a good or bad book 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Letizia

    Another wonderful interview! I always love reading about writers’ routines. Writing one day a week – clever idea. Wishing Freya continued success in her writing and in her cancer therapy!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bun Karyudo

    I’ve never tried publishing a novel of any kind, but from what I’ve read in other people’s blogs, it sounds like it can be pretty difficult to get a publisher interested if a story is not something that can be clearly slotted into one genre or another. I think this is shame. It can only discourage creativity. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah Potter Writes

    Wow! A woman after my own heart, who refuses to wear a book categorisation straight-jacket. Good for you, Freya, although it makes marketing a huge challenge.
    Well, I’ve added your Dragonscales Dimensions Book 1 to my reading list, as you’re a fellow voyager and I loved that opening to the first story.
    Thanks, Christy, for introducing Freya to us, and for a fabulous interview

    Liked by 2 people

  4. D. Wallace Peach

    As you can imagine, Christy, I loved this interview. Fantasy, female protagonists, a love of alliteration, writing for one’s own heart, beautiful words like “biscuit-colored dust.” I could go on and on. Thanks so much for sharing, and lovely to learn more about Freya. 🙂


  5. Ste J

    Great interview and introduction, notepad and pen is so much more fun for note taking, it makes me feel old skool or also like an old tabloid journalist onto a hot story. We need less pigeon holing these days it makes the scene feel less vibrant when the stories are actually there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annika Perry

    Christy, this is a lovely interview with Freya – so many interesting and unusual elements (and learning more about her I’m not surprised at all!) It’s brave to publish short story collections as they are often ignored but this collection is definitely intriguing and what a brain-wave to link it to the novel. I think collections with themes/character strands are the way to go and I wish Freya best of luck with her new book. A 9-book series – wow!! That stopped me reading!! Very impressive. As for genre pigeon-holing, I’m with her all the way always find this restrictive and threatening to put off potential readers…but I know…it’s good for marketing. A great post and thank you for the introduction to Freya and her work.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Adventures with Potato Peelers – Guest Post by Freya Pickard | Francis James Franklin (Alina Meridon)

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