Meet the Sponsored Writers 4: Penny Jones and Alex Davis

Hi I’m Penny Jones and I’m a part-time writer, part-time nurse and part-time procrastinator, which all in all keeps me busy. I tend to write horror fiction and this is my third year of writing horrible little tales for what is usually a very uplifting anthology. I think I was introduced to Rachel Knightley who organises the Sponsored Write through a mutual friend Steve Shaw who runs Black Shuck Books and who has done all the editing, typesetting, etc for the anthology for the last few years. 

Are you a “deadlines person” outside the Sponsored Write? Is the time-limit part of the challenge or the attraction?

I am useless if I don’t have a deadline. If you send me an invite for an anthology or a request for a manuscript, I will usually have it with you a month prior to the deadline, but as soon as I’m told “Whenever” to deadline queries then that is that, you’ll be lucky if you ever get it. I’m so bad at not having a deadline that I actually utilise the editorial and 1:1 services of another of this year’s writers, Alex Davies, to write the book I’m currently working on. So the time-limit on the Sponsored Write is a godsend for me.

Many involved have personal connections with Macmillan Cancer Support. Do you want to share any experience of the charity’s work?

Touch wood I’ve been lucky enough to never have to utilise the charity personally, though they have been a wonderful resource and support to many of my patients through the years.

What do you make of this year’s theme, ‘Constant Renewal’?

My first thought was about the rabbit in the Natural History Museum. It’s an exhibit showing a rabbit dying and rotting and showing how it feeds the earth and brings life back full circle. But as the theme was put forward by the legendary horror author Ramsey Campbell that was quickly followed by my second thought zombies.

Absolutely anything else you’d like to share! 🙂

I’m so excited to yet again be part of such a wonderful fundraising experience, and I look forward to chatting to you all on the day.

I’ve been involved in the writing industries for the better part of twenty years, and that has taken in teaching and workshopping, running events both large and small, one-to-ones and mentoring, editing and proofreading… I studied Creative Writing at the University of Derby and from the minute I left I was determined to explore what could be out there within the wider field, and I feel like I’ve certainly done that in the time since. Being busy has always suited me just fine!

Writing-wise I’ve had a science-fiction novel out, entitled The Last War, but most of my shorts and poetry would be horror and gothic. I’m currently writing a dark fantasy project called ‘The Faceless’, which is part of the PhD I’m currently studying for. It’s one of three novels I’ll be writing looking at different interpretations of the Slendeman creepypasta, and I’m having a blast with it so far.

The Sponsored Write has been on my radar for a number of years – there’s a great community of writers who have always supported it, so it’s been a real pleasure to be involved.

2) Are you a “deadlines person” outside the Sponsored Write? Is the time-limit part of the challenge or the attraction?

Oh, absolutely – my life is full of deadlines in virtually everything I do! The diary is always full and the to do list usually runs over at least a couple of pages. But it’s simply about getting everything done – I don’t think I could manage to work any other way really, because I seem to constantly be juggling so many things at any given time.

The time limit for this one definitely appeals to me, as does the idea of a theme – I’ve always loved writing with that sort of stimulus, something to get you rolling and perhaps take you in a different direction creatively. I’m almost happiest if someone gives me a topic and I can just go off and right to – I know that’s not something everyone loves to do, but it suits me perfectly.

3) Many involved have personal connections with Macmillan Cancer Support. Do you want to share any experience of the charity’s work?

I’m certainly well aware of the brilliant work that MacMillan do, and really pleased to be able to support such a good cause. They’re an absolute lifeline for so many people out there, and it’s wonderful that the Sponsored Write is able to support them.

4) What do you make of this year’s theme, ‘Constant Renewal’?

It’s a fascinating one, and has a sort of gentle quality that I really like. Life is always renewing itself day on day and year on year, so there’s a fabulous optimism there. It also speaks in many ways of societal change – nothing is ever settled, and things are always changing in politics, technology, sociology… there’s a very individual human level to it but also something larger than that.

I think it’s also a potentially challenging on for someone who largely writes horror, because of its very optimism.  That’s not to say that I won’t be looking for a dark direction to take it in of course – we’ll just have to see where the imagination goes. But I have a suspicion it might end up being something a little different to my usual, which should be fun and interesting to write.

5) Absolutely anything else you’d like to share! 🙂

I wanted to add a big thanks for the invite to take part – the Sponsored Write is a hugely exciting project producing a great cause, and it’s a pleasure to be included among such  phenomenal range of talent taking part. One of the things I’m looking forward to seeing myself is the variety of stories that come through – one of the things I have always loved is that you can give ten writers the very same stimulus and they will invariably come up with ten wildly different stories. Anthologies like this are, for me, the perfect bottling of the unique creative process we all have – and that’s one of the reasons I love reading them so much. It’s incredible to see directions emerging that would absolutely never have crossed your own mind.