Victoria Briggs’ ‘View From The Cockpit’ appears in the newly published America Is Not The World, and she kinda describes herself as ‘a rock ‘n’ rolling bitch’. What else do you need to know?
Who are you? A jumped-up pantry girl, who never knew her place … to paraphrase Steven Patrick Morrissey.
And where in the world are you? I live in north London – close enough to the centre so that it still feels like London, but far enough away so as to maintain an optimum level of sanity.
What is the best thing about your country? London is completely different to the rest of the country – it’s like a separate state. I grew up in the UK’s northwest and still have family there, but I’ve lived in London now for longer than I was in the north, which I guess makes London home. So I’ll keep my answer to what’s best about London: it’s one of the great cities of the world, and the only world city in Europe, with all the collective energy and creativity that comes with that, which I love and would miss enormously if I was to uproot myself.
And the worst? The cost of living, the rush hour commute, other Londoners in the rush hour commute – myself included – vile, intolerant creatures, who’d mow down their granny if she was in the way of a hasty exit from the tube station. Visitors to London: do yourself a favour and travel off peak. And stand on the right hand side of the escalators only, and keep moving because you’ll cause a bottleneck otherwise, which nobody will thank you for. And never ask commuters for directions underground, save them for the station staff. You get the idea…Londoners are the worst versions of themselves when forced to travel in over-priced veal crates every day. Oh and the weather, best not leave that off the ‘worst’ list, seeing as the British obsession with it is pretty much a defining characteristic of ours.
How has your country shaped you? I moan when it rains and get irate on public transport.
Tell us about your favorite place in the world. When I come back to London after being away from it for any length of time, I always feel happy to see it, relieved even (depending where I’ve been). There’s a ‘rightness’ to being here that I don’t get from anywhere else. Outside of London, my most favourite place to visit in the world, the place that draws me back time and time again is New York. I first went there as a student for a few months and have been making regular trips ever since. I guess I just like cities …
Tell us about your poem in America Is Not the World. It’s a prose poem – unusual for me – and told from the point of view of an airline pilot whose on-board announcements aren’t of the standard variety. I got the idea from a newspaper feature where various pilots talked about the most scenic routes to fly. One in particular, whose favourite was the London to San Francisco route, became View From The Cockpit, included in this collection.
Tell us about a writer in your country that we should know about. I’m going to name a few, all women, who I’ve read and enjoyed in recent short story collections, and who probably don’t get enough attention on both those counts: Elaine Chiew, FC Malby, Pia Ghosh Roy, Amanda Mason, RE Kemp, Clare Fisher.
What else is going on? I’ve had two stories published recently in anthologies I’m proud to be a part of: Short Fiction 9 and Unthology 8. They’re both really eclectic collections from UK independent presses, where some of the most exciting writing is happening right now. If you’re a fan of short stories, or just good writing, then be sure to check them out.
What is next for you? Well I accidentally discovered the other day I’ve been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, which I’m thrilled about, not because of any expectation beyond the nomination but just to have an editor you’ve worked with acknowledge your writing in this way. When you write, you have to do it for its own sake, because you love it and because there’ll always be knock-backs to make you doubt what you do. So it’s good to enjoy the highs when they come along and take a moment to wave them in the face of your inner critic. Aside from that, I’m looking forward to spring: London in the sunshine is glorious.
Tell us a secret. When I was a student in New York, I had a job working on a sightseeing boat that took tourists on trips round Manhattan. At night, you could hire out the boats for private parties, when they’d anchor a little way out into the Hudson, turn the volume up on the music and let things get pretty wild. Party-goers falling overboard were a reasonably regular occurrence. I served beer, hot dogs and popcorn, and listened out for loud splashes in between the music tracks. Nobody drowned and it was probably the best job I ever had.
Give us a song. This is a tough one. Music has always been important to me and has probably had a much greater influence on me than anything else. Because he was a south London boy made good, and had such a massive cultural impact, I think it will have to be a Bowie track. Let’s say Moonage Daydream. It’s a favourite and the line ‘I’ll be a rock ‘n’ rolling bitch for you,’ is something I can relate to.
Victoria Briggs writes short stories that have been published in UK and US literary journals, anthologies and websites. She works in magazine publishing,blished in UK and US literary journals, anthologies and websites. She works in magazine publishing, has an MA in Creative Writing and once won the UK’s Asham Award for women writers. You can find her tweeting @vicbriggs and blogging at motherpussbucket.wordpress.com