Madeleine Milligan, whose short story ‘Baintsí’ is published in the fourth issue of Lucent Dreaming, is a 22-year-old musician, writer, and sock knitter from Essex, UK. She has spent the last three years of her Creative Writing degree buried in notebooks, crafting short stories inspired my music, dreams, and folklore. ‘Baintsí’ stemmed from a piece of choral music by Don MacDonald called ‘When the Earth Stands Still’ and is her first published piece of fiction. In this interview, we find out the inspiration behind her beautiful and tragic short story.
So, what inspired your piece ‘Baintsí’ and how did it find its way to Lucent Dreaming?
A lot of my writing is inspired by music. I find that instrumental tunes work really well for me because my narrative won’t subconsciously be driven by the lyrics, but ‘Baintsí’ was actually inspired by a piece of a cappella choral music from Don MacDonald called ‘When the Earth Stands Still’. If you’ve got a few minutes spare, I would highly recommend punching it into YouTube, it’s an absolutely gorgeous piece. I’ve always been interested in folklore and fairytales, so this concept appeared from seemingly nowhere as I listened to MacDonald’s haunting melody. I’d been toying with the idea of submitting it to magazines for a while and when I saw the theme that Lucent Dreaming was advertising submissions for, it seemed perfect.
What does writing mean to you?
I know it’s a huge cliché but writing, for me, is an escape. Diving into my hand-crafted world and getting to know my own characters is just as appealing to me as curling up with a good book and getting to know someone else’s characters.
What writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently in my third and final year of a Creative Writing degree at the University of Winchester. As part of my dissertation project, I’m writing an 8,000 word short story based within the same world as ‘Baintsí’. This time we’re following the pooka, a shapeshifting creature that would come to your window at night and call you by name. If you went to it, it would steal you away. My aim is to write several more folklore-inspired short stories to be included in a collection alongside ‘Baintsí’ and ‘Púca’.
What are you most excited about right now and for the future?
I’m at a very exciting (and somewhat intimidating) point in my life where I have several paths I could attempt to pave. I’m two months away from finishing my degree and leaving Winchester, so I’m looking into editorial roles and internships with the aim of becoming a copyeditor. I’m hoping the future involves lots of reading, writing, and music making. Being paid to do so would just be a bonus!
How and where do you find inspiration to do your craft?
Mainly music, but I also do a lot of people-watching. Sometimes an utterly intriguing character will float into my life and I can’t help but feel drawn to their presence. Even if I only spend five minutes near them, I’m usually sat there conjuring complex backstories in my head. Not that my boyfriend appreciates sitting in silence in a restaurant while I’m away with the fairies!
What advice would you give those who want to do what you do?
Write as much and as often as you can and get others – readers and writers alike – to critique it for you. The thing I’ll miss the most about my Creative Writing degree is the vast amount of feedback I can get on a piece of writing, be it from lecturers or peers. Receiving a response of ‘I love this!’ is a welcomed morale booster, but it’s the people that send you detailed analyses and constructive criticism that you want to keep close, because they’re doing you an enormous favour.
Where can people see more of you and your work?
Lucent Dreaming is my debut publication, but I have a website and blog in the making which can be found at . I’m also on Twitter, @m_rose_milligan.
Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication! Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.