Martin MacInnes, "Chemistry"


It's December 18. Martin MacInnes, author of Infinite Ground, was always more of a physics person anyway.

How would you describe your story?

MARTIN MACINNES: 'Chemistry' is set in a near-future. It's about a couple who have recently started dating; they're getting on well enough, they agree they should be compatible, but there's something missing. So they pay to have the chemistry added, literally.

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

MM: I wrote it in early 2015, the first draft in one sitting, with little editing after. I don't often write short stories, but those I do write tend to happen quickly. I have a hunch, something about matching a tone and an idea, and I go to write it out without planning anything further. This is very different from my process writing longer prose, which goes at a much slower rate and takes a long time to get anywhere.

What kind of research went into this story?

MM: I was thinking about previous relationships and these little moments where every detail seemed a bit too contrived; looking around the airport, say, and seeing other versions of the coupling. I thought there was potential for some sly humour in that. I've been interested in philosophy of mind for a long time—writers like Thomas Metzinger—so that came into it as well.

What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing can't?

MM: Some of my favourite writers did their best work in short stories: J. G. Ballard, Eudora Welty, Katherine Mansfield. Short stories give a writer the opportunity to explore a range that they can't in longer fiction. Perhaps, in being a sudden experience, unlike a novel, and in being more direct than poetry, short stories have the potential to disrupt and surprise readers all at once; to come out of nowhere and disturb the day.

Where should people go to learn more about you and your work?

MM: I have an extremely rudimentary website—more a gesture towards a website than a website—here: I think this might revert to a Wordpress domain name in February because I hate seeing that money go out every year.

What's the best gift you've ever been given?

MM: That's a disappointingly difficult question. I've never actually thought about that. I want to treat the question directly, so... either the Ghostbusters costume I got for Christmas when I was six or seven, the obscure CD an ex-girlfriend hunted down for me, or, being sentimental, the watch my brother got me after he moved to Kuala Lumpur.

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Michael Hingston