Andy Cashmore is one of my esteemed writing “compañeros” (as we say here in Panama) in the second issue of †3Dark. His story is called “Narrating The Long Drive,” and let’s just say it is unlike any narrating you’ve read before. The story is a riddle, a dark joke that the reader is not sure he is in on. Here Andy talks about his mysterious story, Murakami, Final Fantasy, and cats.

What’s †3Dark?

The aim is to release 13 unique never-before-seen short stories in digital and paperback form, accompanied by custom artwork from Shawn Langley, and with cover artwork by grandfailure. These editions will be beautifully produced, melding the visual and written elements, offering unique insight into our world. Each story will be edited and have a foreword written by Joseph Sale. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something colossal.

†3 Dark Cursed Crossings

Read the stories. Bring this issue to life.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What did you want to be when you grew up? What made you become a writer?

I grew up in a small town in Cambridgeshire with my brother and parents, mostly playing football or going to London to watch it! We travelled a lot by train, so for the longest time I wanted to be a train driver.

But part of me has always wanted to write, mainly because of the Final Fantasy games. I watched my brother and his friend play numerous numbered iterations of the game. Eventually my dad and I played Final Fantasy 7 together. Then, my poor mum watched me play hours and hours of it in our living room. I fell in love with the stories of these games, and I read the strategy guides back to front, sometimes choosing to read those rather than progress further in the games. I did do a lot of reading of books too, but Final Fantasy, and I suppose its link to my family, played a large part in forming my love of reading, storytelling and writing.

Who is/are your favorite writers and why?

I have two. First, Neil Gaiman. In secondary school I stopped reading outside of school for about five years. Then at the age of sixteen, my chemistry teacher recommended me Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I fell in love with reading again because of this book. I loved the familiarity of his London world, how he took quirky parts of travelling in London and turned them into fantasy, and the characters and how charming and interesting they were. All of Gaiman’s works are full of wonderful dry humour intertwined with enchanting worlds, a combination I just can’t get enough of. Normally I try to inject that dry humour in my work, though I’m not sure it comes out in ‘Narrating the Long Drive’ so much aha.

The second is Haruki Murakami, who came later in my life. He is a master of prose. I don’t like giving out high praise very often, because I think it should be saved for when it is truly warranted, but whenever I’m reading a Murakami book, I feel like something extraordinary can happen in my everyday life. His work is rich with meaning, sometimes beyond my comprehension, but that doesn’t matter to me. I love the curiosity of his stories, the need to think his work over and to seek the views of others who have read his books. I think I’ve tried to do this in my story.

3. You story features a curious character, a cat. What inspired you to include it as part of your story?

Ah Kid…
The initial idea for this story came when my girlfriend and I were working apart from each other, me in Cambridge and her in Milton Keynes. At the weekends we’d drive to see one another, and this normally meant long drives alone in the dark. So it was always meant to be about a person, driving, alone at night with a purpose. What that purpose was, I didn’t know, but the driver was always meant to be alone.

Then, when I started to write the story, Kid sort of appeared on the front passenger seat. And I’m glad Kid did. The cat made it easier to create unease and warn Jeffrey, but it was also a good way of trying to hint at deeper feelings within Jeffrey’s character. I think the bond between Jeffrey and the cat is a stand in for a different relationship in the story.

Yeah, Kid wasn’t meant to be a part of the story, but like all cats, if it fits it sits.

There are so many questions I want to ask about this story, but I don’t want to spoil it for everyone. I’ll just ask this, what is the goal of your writing? What do you most want to communicate?

Aha, I imagine you won’t be the only one with questions!

I love writing about people on the fringes of society. The people you may hear about in the news, but that you may never have met. And I love the idea of really unusual things happening when everyone’s backs are turned. So I think the goal of my writing is to illuminate these dark pockets of society. Sometimes I look at real people and situations, and sometimes, like with this story, I pose a ‘what if’ and wonder what really peculiar things could be happening when we’re not looking. The idea that the world keeps going, even when we’re not conscious, boggles my mind, and I love thinking about what I don’t see.

I think also with this story, I really wanted to play with form and tropes. When I watch movies, I like imagining what happens behind the camera, what if the film kept going after the end credits. The story evolved into this idea, and part of that was having the narrator as a character that wasn’t really part of the story, but as someone who can access the reader’s world and the world within the story. I had a lot of fun with that, and I love writing and reading stories that experiment with form and tropes.

What are your plans for the future? Any new work we can expect from you?

I just had a piece of flash fiction out in a magazine called Cake. But I’m not even close to being as prolific as many of the other writers for 13 Dark.

Currently I’m trying to get a novel out there about hikikomori, or Japanese reclusion. I’m also editing another novel which follows someone who has never had a bad thing happen to her in her life at the point she meets a man who has never had a bad thing happen to them (though he is not pleased by this). Other than that, I’m dabbling in flash fiction and short stories where I have time. If people are interested, they can follow me on twitter @AndyJCash (or if you want to talk about Final Fantasy or Haruki Murakami).

Thanks to Andy for stopping by to answer my questions. Get his story “Narrating the Long Drive” plus 3 other mind-bending dark fiction stories in Issue #2 of †3Dark.

†3 Dark Cursed Crossings

†he Crossing – Convic†ion – Narra†ing the Long Drive