Cook Publishing is proud to announce the winner of the 2019 Short Story Contest, Bethany Martin. Bethany, a young writer and university student in Scotland, enthralled us right away with her short story Through the Window. Based on the contest theme of “new beginnings”, her easy dialogue and suspenseful buildup of a young couple moving into a new house had us excited from the beginning. We had to hear more from Bethany and she graciously shared her story with us. We are looking forward to reading more from Bethany in the future.
Cook Publishing: When did you start writing and when did you know it was something you wanted to do?
Bethany Martin: I had to ask my mother about this one because it was so long ago! I started writing when I was around seven. Even before that, I was enamoured with reading. We went to the library religiously when I was a kid. It didn't even have to be books; my mum always said that grocery shopping took twice as long when I was with her because I would stop and read absolutely anything I could get my hands on. I guess when I realised I didn't have to just read about fantastic adventures but could create my own as well, I took the opportunity by the horns. I wanted to be an author from a young age, probably around ten or eleven, but lost the desire during high school and university. School always taught me that being an author is nice, but I'd be better off working in an office. It's only very recently that I've found faith in my writing and realised that maybe my teachers didn't know everything.
CP: What motivated you to enter a short story contest?
BM: I've always been better at finishing short fiction than novels, but for years I thought the only way to get noticed in this field was by publishing a novel. I know now that it's not that simple. When I saw the tweet with the contest details, I thought, "Hey, I can do that." Most of all, I thought it would be a chance to see how I compared to other authors. I'd never really had a chance to do that before.
CP: Where did you get “Through the Window” from? What excited you about writing it?
BM: I wrote 'Through the Window' after seeing the theme of the contest. To me, there is no newer beginning than moving to a new house in a new town where you don't know anyone. It's a second chance to redefine yourself. On a larger scale, birth and death are both new beginnings of a sort. What excited me the most about writing the story was how fast it flowed. I wrote the first draft in about an hour. For someone who was only really getting back into the swing of writing regularly, it was exhilarating. I felt like I was a kid discovering how to shape a world again.
CP: Is there anything in your short story that comes from your life or experiences?
BM: I go to university in a different city from the one I grew up in. I've moved around a lot since I left home, including to another country for a while. Whenever I moved into a new place, I noticed how odd and unfamiliar it felt. There's a strange uncertainty about not knowing the layout of your own home. I took that feeling and amplified it in 'Through the Window'. But, as far as I'm aware, I've never been possessed.
CP: Did you learn anything about yourself when you wrote it?
BM: I didn't learn anything too profound, I'm afraid! I did learn that I'm capable of finishing things, which has always been a large issue for me. I feel a lot more confident in my work now that I know I can actually produce a finished piece. I have read that when you write horror and similar genres, you're really writing about what scares you most. I think the fears that have been exposed in writing 'Through the Window' are pretty valid though.
CP: What are you working on now? What’s next for you?
BM: I have a novel that I've been working on for a while (slow and steady!), but I'm also writing a lot more short stories than I ever thought I would be. First though, I think I'll finish my thesis and graduate university.
Follow Bethany on Twitter @ascottishbee