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Liam Hogan is an Oxford Physics graduate whose award winning short story, “Ana”, appears in Best of British Science Fiction 2016. “The Dance of a Thousand Cuts” appears in Best of British Fantasy 2018 (both from NewCon Press). His dark tale “Groomed” appears in “The Twisted Book of Shadows”, from Haverhill House Publishing. He lives and avoids work in London.
What’s your background, what compelled you to start writing?
I meandered from a physics degree into computing, spent a couple of years in New York were I did a Gotham Writers course, then a couple of years after that I took my first career break. It was either writing or actually trying to master chess and writing turned out to be a lot easier.
What book from your childhood do you remember the best? Why? What’s your most favourite under-appreciated novel?
These two questions I can answer in one. I was blown away by Barry Hughart’s “A Bridge of Birds”. Maybe it caught me at the right moment, though it still stands up to a reread even now. There is evident delight in the author’s telling of a China that never was, and the labyrinthine tale twists and turns its way to a perfect ending. It is, alas, rather hard to source these days, but worth the effort!
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Hey! Don’t install that horribly addictive computer game. Why don’t you try writing something instead?
What does literary success look like to you?
There are a number of pro-rate, long established magazines for Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I aim to conquer them all. Analog so far is my only triumph.
Have you ever Googled yourself? What did you find out that you didn’t already know?
Of course! And I found out that there are other Liam Hogan’s out there. Grrr. At one point, “Liam J Hogan” was a googlewhack. At one point, people knew what a googlewhack was…
What one thing would/did you give up to be a writer?
A salary. It was a fair trade. Instead of being paid to do a job I didn’t particularly enjoy I now enjoy a job I don’t particularly get paid for.
Besides hard work and talent, what other traits has led to your success?
Hah! Dogged persistence and a never ending well of ideas. Seriously. Keep writing and keep submitting. It is, to some awful degree, a numbers game.
What is a little-known fact about you?
My first writing success was at the age of 9, in the local newspaper. I was even paid – in book tokens. This set an unrealistic expectation on the financial viability of writing that’s persisted the rest of my life…
Were you an avid reader while you were growing up?
Absolutely. The second hand book shops and saturday stalls were regularly raided for ten pence novels. I had an almost complete set of Agatha Christie’s at one point. Only once did I ever work out whodunnit before the big reveal. Might explain why I don’t write murder mysteries! P.s. The first – indeed, the ONLY poem I committed to memory in my youth was the Jabberwocky – of course!
How many half-finished and unpublished books do you have right now?
I always have lots of short stories on the go in all stages from bare idea to submissions ready to go. In theory I also have a unfinished novel I started more than thirty years as well. It’s not my only unfinished novel. And I’m sure I’ll add to that list over the next few years. I am, quite simply, in awe of anyone who even finishes a first draft. For me, as a general “project”, I’m trying to spend more time writing new stories, so that I have enough to form a collection or two, should I find someone interested in publishing them!