Previously published as an illustrator and cartoonist, Maggie Ling swapped dip pen for iMac to concentrate on words alone. Her prose fiction has since been placed in numerous international competitions, including a shortlisting for the Bridport Prize. Her short story Carpe Diem made the top fifty longlist for the BBC National Short Story Award 2021. Her work has been published in Unthology 1 (Unthank Books 2010), the Asham Award-winning Something Was There (Virago 2011) and Unthology 5 (Unthank 2014). Appetites: stories of love, sex and death, her debut collection, was published in 2019. Readings, linked to memoir, from eight of the nineteen stories can be heard in her podcast series On the Shelf: the oxymoronic life of an under-published writer. She lives in Norwich, a UNESCO city of literature.
Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?
A: No particular writer is at the forefront of my mind. Though when forced to come up with my fantasy dinner party guests recently, I chose Tom Payne, Bruce Springsteen and Mary Wollstonecraft. So Mary it must be, with thanks for all she did in her radical but too short life.
Q: What superpower would you like to have and why?
A: I’ve never been attracted to power, super or otherwise. On the other hand… if I had it within my power to neutralise the power-hungry leaders of the superpowers and emirates of this world and magically turn them into peace-loving egalitarians, then I’d be tempted to use it!
Q: Who is your personal inspiration?
A: There is no particular who. There’s the stuff of life. Human emotions. Relationships. Politics. Love. Sex. Death.
In my perverse mind it’s summertime: that hot summer of 1976. Which it could not have been, since Lukey was born in January. Even so, I persist in seeing it this way. Seeing my mother, in bikini and tie-dyed sarong, drifting from shaded bedroom to sun-scorched balcony, a whiff of coconut suntan lotion wafting through …
It’s their highly responsive MHV! Aurelia said, adopting that high-flown tone of hers. They were discussing the intelligence of birds. Aurelia had edged the conversation in that direction, maybe as a way of proving, if proof was needed, how very clever she was. Her PhD had been on avian cognition: Thinking Psittacinae-fashion. She had spent …