The Opposite of Disappearing: Author Interview with Niko Campbell-Ellis

Posted by Rhiza Edge on 11th Aug 2021

The Opposite of Disappearing: Author Interview with Niko Campbell-Ellis

Writer of Haunted

     1. Other than the theme for the anthology, what was your inspiration for your short story?

When I was a teenager, the older brother of a girl I knew died in similar circumstances to the death in this story. Many things about that time stuck with me, rattling around in my brain, and coming out in stories now and then. I was also inspired by stories I read, heard, and experienced personally, about the bravery and resourcefulness of girls when dealing with men who would do them harm. I wanted to shine a light on that here too.

     2. Did you learn anything from writing your story? Is there something you hope people will learn when they read it?

The message I hope people will take away from this story is that life is fleeting. You never know when the time you talk to someone might be your last conversation with them, or if the snap decision you make might land you in danger. So seize the day! Love well and generously and forgive mistakes (your own and those made by other people). Something I learned is how much a story that you think is finished can be improved by working with an editor. It was a valuable experience for me as an emerging writer to work with the editors at Rhiza Press and I know Haunted is a better story for their input.

     3. How did your character/s come to you? Were they difficult, were they easy?

Connie’s character spoke to me quite clearly throughout the writing process. I wanted to write her sadness with empathy, but I also wanted to be true to the tendency towards introspection and not necessarily seeing things from other people’s perspectives, that she showed me. This came out in the way she perceived the motives and feelings of others, especially her mum. Sometimes I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say, ‘can’t you see how she’s feeling?’ but at that point, Connie was blind to so much of what her mum was going through. I hope this flaw has made her a richer and more believable character. There were times in the writing process where I didn’t know what would happen and I was very relieved Connie managed to escape from the man in the car.

     4. What kind of writing style or preferences do you have? Are they similar to your short story?

The short stories I write for adults are similar in style to Haunted, but my other main writing passion is children’s picture books – so a very different style!

     5. Do you have a favourite genre that you love to read?

I love to read just about anything. I have a big love for young adult contemporary fiction and think the stories in this collection are just wonderful.

     6. Without giving too much away, could you tell us a little about your short story?

In her grief and guilt about her brother’s death, and her fear that her mum doesn’t love her anymore, Connie makes a choice that could threaten her life. In her quest for safety, she learns some valuable lessons about acceptance, forgiveness, and living with her mistakes.