Last month, we announced our Writers Mastermind Short Story Contest winners. In this series, we interview each of them to discover the soul behind their story.
Today we talk to Tomas Marcantonio, who won third place with his story, Feathers. He taught English in South Korea for most of the past decade, and is now settling in England to finish his dystopian noir series. Learn about his experience abroad and what drives his writing.
Meet Tomas Marcantonio, author of Feathers (3rd Place Winner)
Tomas Marcantonio is a writer from Brighton, England. He graduated from the University of Sussex with a BA in English Language and Film, and he spent most of his twenties teaching English while travelling and writing.
Tomas is the author of two travelogues, Gift of the Gap and How Not To Live Your Twenties, as well as the coming-of-age novel The Leap of Grebes. His dystopian trilogy Sonaya Nights is being published by Storgy Books, with first installment This Ragged, Wastrel Thing released on August 1st, 2020.
Tomas is also the author of numerous short stories, many of which have appeared in literary journals and speculative fiction magazines online and in print. He has placed in several short story and flash fiction competitions, and was the winner of the ‘Just Back’ travel writing competition in The Telegraph in 2017. In 2020, Tomas was also nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.
When not scribbling about future worlds or his two beloved seaside cities, Brighton and Busan, Tomas is often writing obscure articles about Korean football. Otherwise, he is most likely getting lost in neon-lit backstreets somewhere, searching for new brands of makgeolli.
11 Questions with Tomas Marcantonio
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where are you now? What has your life been like?
I’m from Brighton on the south coast of the UK, but I spent most of the past ten years in South Korea, where in addition to writing I was teaching English. I recently moved back to Brighton to be closer to family and friends. It’s great being back, but I do miss the thrill of being abroad. I did a lot of travelling in my twenties, but now that I’m in my mid-thirties I’m trying my best to settle!
2. What kind of stories do you like to write?
I love exploring alternate worlds, especially dystopian or futuristic societies. I also frequently write about anxiety, and coming of age through travel. I rarely write about mundane life – I love travel and adventure and diverse peoples and places.
3. What sets you apart from other writers in your space?
I suppose my dream as a writer is to combine genre writing with literary fiction. As a reader I adore both, but I haven’t come across too many writers who write genre fiction with the poetic prose I enjoy. That’s the little corner I aim for.
4. What drives your writing? What do you mean to accomplish with your stories?
I recently wrote a Writer’s Manifesto as part of my Creative Writing Master’s degree – I called it the Soul Tattooist’s Manifesto. The idea is to ‘tattoo’ your soul into history, to make a permanent record of your thoughts, fears, feelings, and inspirations. I love the idea of trying to capture your true self in your writing, and the possibility that future generations will be able to read it and have an insight into your identity.
5. Who are you favorite writers and books? What are your other creative influences?
It’s hard to narrow this down to a few! I adore the writing of James Lee Burke, one of the few crime writers I’ve read whose beautiful descriptions of places and people can take my breath away. In terms of prose I’m hugely inspired by the writing styles of the likes of Laurie Lee, Virginia Woolf, and Annie Proulx, but I also love the big ideas and imagination of fantasy and speculative fiction novels. Haruki Murakami is my go-to writer if I’m in need of a definite pleaser.
6. Tell us about your writing space. When and where do you write? Do you work in silence? Or music?
I tend to write better in cafés, so a little background music is welcome. In Korea my ideal writing routine was to get up early and head to a quiet café with sea views and spend the whole morning there. I haven’t found my perfect writing café since moving back to Brighton, so I’m still searching!
7. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not writing?
Apart from curling up with a good book, my favourite hobby these days is beach volleyball. There’s nothing better than jumping around in the sand on a sunny day – especially if there’s a cold pale ale waiting afterwards.
8. Who is your current artistic muse?
My biggest artistic muse of the past decade has been Busan, my favourite city in Korea. Sandy beaches, sprawling mountains, labyrinths of neon-lit backstreets, and don’t get me started on the food. A huge city bursting with personality, and inspiration in every little nook.
9. Why do you think it’s important to write fiction?
I want to avoid trying to give a deep, profound answer here, so I’ll just answer this from my personal point of view as a writer – it’s a release, a calling, a joy.
10. Who would be the best writer, alive or dead, to tell the story of your life?
I’d love to read a Murakami novel of my life – he’d be able to side-step the boring parts by having me stumble upon a parallel world.
11. What are you working on right now?
I’m tidying up Book 3 of my dystopian noir trilogy, Sonaya Nights, from Storgy Books. I’m also working on a fantasy novel, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I love world building and letting my imagination run riot, so it’s been a joy so far.
Thanks to Tomas Marcantonio for letting us into his world.
This Ragged, Wastrel Thing: https://storgy.com/2020/05/01/this-ragged-wastrel-thing/