Lindz McLeod is a queer, working-class, Scottish writer and editor who dabbles in the surreal. Her short prose has been published by Apex, Catapult, Pseudopod, The Razor, and many more. Her longer work includes the novelette LOVE, HAPPINESS, AND ALL THE THINGS YOU MAY NOT BE DESTINED FOR (Assemble, 2022), her short story collection TURDUCKEN (Spaceboy, 2023), as well as her novels BEAST (Hear Us Scream, 2023), SUNBATHERS (Hedone Books, 2024), and A FLORAL ARRANGEMENT (Harlequin, 2024). She is a full member of the SFWA, the club president of the Edinburgh Writers' Club, and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing.
As far back as I can remember, I was obsessed with stories as a means of escapism; I used books as portals to wonderful new worlds where anything was possible. After completing a BA and then a Masters in Creative Writing, I decided I needed to take my craft more seriously, so I embarked on a programme of self-guided study and practice for the next three years. I was lucky enough to land an agent quickly with my first novel, and since then have gone from strength to strength. It’s really important to me that I don’t rest on my laurels—I’m always pushing myself to evolve by working on areas I perceive as my weakest. In 2021, I decided to work specifically on flash fiction (between longer projects) and as a result my short work, as well as chapters of my novels, became much cleaner and more precise. I credit this to the wonderful and talented writers I surrounded myself with, who were always happy to answer questions about craft, and now I try to give that same energy and assistance back to the community wherever I can.
I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to genre! In longer work, I tend towards historical, horror, and literary fiction with a dash of romance, but I like to dabble in everything where possible, especially climate or tech-based sci-fi. I’m easily hooked by a normal character in an unusual situation, or vice-versa—those always intrigue me.
Everything from poetry to scrrenplays, but most frequently I write novels and short stories. Often an idea begins as a short piece, but requires a bigger pot to grow in. I’ve actually written and delivered a course on expanding a small idea into a large project, and the process is much easier than people may think!
I’m often inspired by other books, or by films. My partner is a talented writer and we frequently discuss trends or premises in the shows we watch and the books we read, as well as challenging each other to find fresh angles into older ideas.
The way it feels when a great idea strikes; there’s no feeling on earth quite like it. Something akin to lightning, fizzling through my entire body, setting my mind alight.
Turn up, especially when you don’t feel like it. Treat writing as something exciting, not a burden, or it will quickly become one.
I often hear people complain that the idea in their head isn’t as good on paper, so they’re afraid to try writing it down. In that case, I advise writing the worst possible version of the thing—really go for it with bad grammar, boring verbs, run-on sentences, the whole deal. Somehow it relieves the pressure by forcing you to realize the most important lesson of all: you can’t edit a blank page. It doesn’t really matter what you’ve written to begin with, as long as you continue working on it and refining it. Writers are sculptors, carefully chipping away at a block of something to create a work of art.
I’m currently a PhD student in Creative Writing, and my thesis centres around the idea of ocularcentrism and intimacy in fiction. I’m curious about the ways in which we can broaden accessibility to literature, both physically and otherwise, and having prose animated and aligned with a soundtrack seemed like a wonderful new way of bringing my work to life.
I often draw from Scottish folklore, but I like to take a fresh angle where possible. My latest story ‘The Kelpie’ is based around a water demon which looks like a beautiful horse, who is known for enticing riders to sit astride its back. Once the person is seated, the kelpie rushes into the ocean and drowns them. My main character, Yvonne, is a girl of marriable age who doesn’t want to marry her male suitor, and had hoped instead to become the village witch’s apprentice. After finding out that her mother bribed the witch to take another girl as apprentice, Yvonne is distraught and goes hunting for the kelpie. She knows that she’s queer, and that marriage to her suitor will only bring her unhappiness, but in this small village she has no other option. However, instead of dragging her to a watery death, the beast carries Yvonne across the sea to a land where she is welcome, and the village is populated with people who love the same way she does. Often, kelpie stories end with justice or revenge in some way, and I thought it might be interesting to see how the opposite result might play out.
I’m a very visual writer, and am usually picturing the scene in my head as I create it. I’m excited to see those characters and worlds coming to life, and I think that merging prose and animation in this way creates a piece which is more than the sum of its parts.
Very much so—I see a lot of queer relationships in fiction being sanitised and made pretty/chaste, but queer people can be villains too, can be morally grey, can make bad choices. It’s important to reclaim that space for ourselves, to be allowed to exist as full and flawed people. My characters often present themselves to me as is, though I tend to ascribe to the Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park) school of thought: “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Writing diversity in fiction is hugely important, though we should also be aware that not having lived experience of a particular sexuality/race/class/gender/etc may give us blind spots around crucial issues. Research is invaluable, as is listening to people who belong to that particular group.