Stephen Oram

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1. What made you want to become a writer?

I’d love to say it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a small child and without it I’d curl up and die. But, that wouldn’t be true. The reality is that although I enjoyed studying English literature at school I was persuaded to focus on science and maths for my higher studies and it was only about six years ago that I decided to do something creative. At the same time I was rethinking how I spent my spare time, but that’s another story for another day.

After taking a fabulous creative writing course, I set out to see if I could write a novel. I’ve always been an observer of people and society and I quickly became addicted to the act of imagining the future, creating characters and then wrapping them all up in a story. I think one of the things I enjoy most is tackling the extremes of conceiving whole new worlds and choosing the best word or punctuation for a particular sentence. The encouragement I get from reviews and readers keeps spurring me on to write more.

2. What is your genre or writing style and has it changed over time?

I like to think my style is accessible – no long words or flowery phrases where something simple and to the point does the job just as well, if not better. This is particularly important for the shorter stuff where you want to convey something quickly, but with a lot of meaning.

I write thought provoking stories that mix science fiction with social comment, mainly in a recognisable near-future. What does that mean? Well, it means taking a piece of existing or emerging technology, considering how it might develop and how it might get used and then playing around with it. This is pretty consistent across all my work. I don’t think my genre has really changed over time although the novels tend to be more socio-political and the short stuff more technology focussed, but that’s because there’s more room in a novel to develop the deeper thinking. In the Eating Robots collection there’s a few stories where the technology is unexplained, almost magical, and that’s something I’m interested in writing more of. As Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

3. What has helped you the most in the writing pursuit?

Hearing what other people think of my writing. That can be reviews, editors, beta readers or just passing comments. I particularly like to hear what thoughts the story has sparked in the reader’s mind. I’m also a member of the Clockhouse London Writers which is a fantastically talented bunch of people that bounce ideas off each other once a month. Hearing their ideas, which are often very different to mine, has stretched my imagination and encouraged me to be more experimental.

I think the thing that’s helped me most is life experience. I’ve had a varied life, seeing society from the heart of government and from the fringes, the dropouts. This range of perspectives gives me a fairly unique edge when contemplating how science or technology might change society, for better or worse.

4. How would you describe your writing practice?

Although I work full-time I find some time each day to write or edit and use as much of a weekend as I can. Long train journeys and occasional holidays in isolated shacks by the sea are my favourite ways of getting down to writing something substantial.

Firstly, I find a hook in the present, the mundane of the every-day and then imagine a slightly screwed up version. Next, I work out the beginning, middle and end of the story and then the characters that might inhabit that future. Once I start writing though, my imagination takes over and it goes where it goes – that’s the first draft. I then edit it, pass it in front of some trusted beta readers, even if it’s only 500 words long, and finally edit again until I’m happy. I do quite a lot of public readings of my short stories and that tends to focus the mind on producing crisp and entertaining work.

5. What are you writing now?

I’ve just completed a collection of thirty sci-fi shorts which you can pre-order now ahead of them being published on 31 May 2017. It’s called, Eating Robots and Other Stories. And, I’m about half way through the first draft of my third novel, which weirdly has the working title of Novel 4.

I write a short story each month for my mailing list. Recently, my focus has been on writing stories for the Virtual Futures’ Near-Future Fiction events which are held monthly in Soho, London.

6. Where can someone find out more about your work?

The published work – Quantum Confessions, Fluence and Eating Robots are available as paperbacks and eBooks from all the usual reputable booksellers. My website has links to them all and blog posts under the thoughts and speculations category which unpick some of the thinking behind the stories. There are also free taster stories if you join my mailing list.

You’ll find it all at www.stephenoram.net which also has details of any forthcoming events and links to videos of past events.

I can be found online at:

Twitter: @OramStephen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StephenOramAuthor.