Tim Pears talks writing, pianists and sport

What grabs you in a short story?

Two things, I’d say. Firstly, a fresh way of looking at/describing the world. Secondly, a sense that the world the author has created is going on outside the story, that the story is a snapshot of a larger universe.

How has your writing changed down the decades?

I am ever less permitted to know, and to tell the reader, what a character thinks and feels. I can describe what they do, and say. The rest is private.

When you had many other jobs, where and when did you find time to write?

To be honest, I was less social, more lonely, than I would have wanted, but this meant I had time to write in the evenings. Maybe that is what I really wanted, I don’t know.

How did you get a job as a pianist’s bodyguard?

A young prodigy had been on tv and was beset by a stalker. Fortunately, he didn’t turn up where he threatened to, so I was not needed for long.

Tips for writers struggling to believe in themselves?

That’s a tough one. I would say write for the deep pleasure of making art, if you can. If this is possible, believing or not believing in oneself is kind of irrelevant.

How has your love of sport informed your writing?

I’ve loved writing about sport. Sport is an arena for human courage and cowardice, morality and immorality, beauty and ugliness, in sharply focused microcosm.  Yet it’s almost neutral in itself, chiefly concerned with competition, which is not that interesting – until competition becomes collaboration.

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