Interview with Stephen Bayliss

What are your five favorite books, and why?
The answer to this changes with time and circumstances but some of the books that have influenced me include; To The LIghthouse by Virginia Woolf which I liked because of its unusual style and its insight into its characters' minds.
Middlemarch by George Elliot, a great epic that has great characterization and a fascinating plot.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, a wry and ironic style merged with a good narrative as well as commentary on the foibles and follies of the social constructs of the time. You can't go wrong writing about the search for love and money!
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, an in depth look at the emerging artist and his or her struggles to create their art or literature within a conformist and domineering society.
The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield - she is a master of the short story and a pioneer of its modern form and I come back to this book often for lessons and inspiration.
What do you read for pleasure?
For pleasure I mostly read literary fiction. That is, fiction that is generally written in a style of gritty social realism that hopefully has something to say about society and the human condition. If it's poetically and artfully written so much the better. I also enjoy the occasional well written science fiction or speculative work. I also read some non-fiction such as biographies and books on current events. I regularly read literary fiction journals such as Landfall (Otago University Press, Dunedin) and Sport (Victoria University Press, Wellington) for their short fiction, poetry, essays and reviews.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My short fiction collection, A Distant Summer's Day, is a bringing together of stories I have written over the last twenty five years or so. Four of the stories have been previously published in literary fiction magazines but this is the first outing for the other eight. There are about four stories that are quite long, bordering on novella length, so this was an opportunity to really develop a plot and characters in a way that you can't always do with the usual 3000 word limit. My aim was to produce stories of gritty social realism that hopefully resonate with readers' experiences and make some comment on society and the human condition and perhaps create a sense of empathy with the characters.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I like to create characters and tell their stories in a way that hopefully elicits sympathy and a sense of understanding with those reading about them. I also think part of writing is to illustrate social problems and hopefully shed a little light on the frailty of human beings - the joy is in hopefully having shown and elicited some empathy with an aspect of the human condition.
Who are your favorite authors?
This could be quite a long list, but I'll name a few - mainly old school and writers of classics. So ... Jane Austen, Katherine Mansfield, James Joyce, E. M. Forster, Janet Frame, Maurice Duggan, George Elliot, Elizabeth Gaskill, Leo Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, Frank Sargeson, Anton Chekhov, Ursula Le Guin, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, Alice Munro ...
Published 2018-07-12.
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Books by This Author

A Distant Summer's Day
Price: Free! Words: 63,980. Language: English. Published: June 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » Australian & Oceanian, Fiction » Literature » Literary
A son returns to the farm and his domineering father; a woman facing redundancy recalls an affair and wonders what might have been; a landlord steels herself to evict a poor tenant; a journalist interviews his hero and learns that the great are only human. Twelve short stories where a range of characters struggle to find connection and meaning in their lives.