Interview with ”Round Midnight” contest grand prize winner
Javi Reddy was the winner in our 9th international short story contest. As we do all these years we interviewed via e-mail the grand prize winner and here is what he says about the contest, his short story, his plans for the future and of course about his holidays in Greece next summer…
How did you feel when you saw the results?
This was an international contest and as a writer you’re often scared to put your work out there. Especially on such a big platform. I remember opening the mail that announced the winning results and not expecting much. When I clicked on the link to the site and saw my name there, I shouted out loud. My colleague at work sitting next me thought I was crazy. Now I’m a crazy man who’s won an international contest. I’ll take that.
How did you hear about the contest?
A friend told me about it. Her name is Google.
When did you start writing?
We’re all writing from a young age. Whether it’s at school or whether we’re scribbling on a wall we shouldn’t be scribbling on. To be honest, I don’t remember when exactly I started writing nor do I remember whether I truly enjoyed it as a kid. But 2009 was a significant year for me. I couldn’t find a job so I started writing a book. After that, I knew that writing was an outlet and a channel for me to address whatever I was going through in life. Since then I’ve found it very hard not to write. It’s a sickness I quietly pray I will be never be cured of.
Have you seen your work published or your stories shortlisted win a prize before?
Earlier this year, I was runner-up in the SA Writers College 2019 Annual Short Story Award.My short story “Sit Down, You’re Brown” tackled serious identity issues in South Africa and did so in a light-hearted tone. And now Eyelands have kindly awarded me a Grand Winner prize. It’s been a good year.
You wrote a brilliant story. What was the inspiration for ‘’ Marvin Baxter’s Background Music’’?
Inspiration is a funny thing. It builds and builds and you store it somewhere in your mind. Then one day, it springs out. I think the key is to make sure you live life and don’t close any opportunities or doors to exploring the unknown. When I first saw the theme for the competition, ‘Round Midnight’ I felt this could be a door to open where I could explore a different side to my writing. I had to make sure I avoided clichés- ‘Midnight’ seems to have a typical horror story theme attached to it, doesn’t it?In the end, it was an absolute pleasure to test myself by bringing to life an unusual story.
It’s obvious from your story that your hero, Marvin, is a fan of Jazz music. Can you tell us more about your music preferences or perhaps the way that music influenced your life?
Growing up, my dad always hummed or sung out good music in the car or in the bathroom when he was shaving. The Beatles, Frank Sinatra- my upbringing was filled with only the best tunes. Those seeds were planted in my mind from a young age. It’s why I have such a massive vinyl collection today. Although, my collection it’s not as big as I want it to be! There’s always room for more. We also come from a family of huge Jazz fans. So much so that even one of my young cousins was named Ella after the late and great Miss Fitzgerald. Jazz evokes a feeling that I cannot quite explain. You either get it or you don’t. It’s either for you or it’s lost on you. If you look at Marvin Baxter, he’s a kid who was given a rough deal. But he doesn’t know that his situation is dire because he has his music. It blocks out all the things that can hurt him. Isn’t that the power of music?
Have you ever been in Greece before?
2 of my colleagues went in 2019. My neighbor went in 2018. I was tired of them telling me how beautiful it is! Now, it’s my turn. Get ready, Greece. I’m coming to take in your beauty…
What are your plans for the future?
I have a book that is coming out soon. It’s being handled by a London publishing house. ’12 Yards Out’ is a thriller/crime novel. But the dream doesn’t stop there. Everyday I’m trying to build more, to write something new. I hope one day that I leave a few good stories behind. Maybe they’ll say I was a decent writer when I’m gone. Or better yet, maybe they’ll read my stories and be inspired to write their own.
Are you already dreaming of your holidays in Crete?
I’m dreaming of getting more sleep. And of exercising more. And reading books I have not yet opened. I am dreaming of all the wonderful people I will meet that will change my life. And of all the magic that lurks around the corner that could influence my next story. But for now, if I don’t get all of that at least I will have Crete. Yes, that’ll do, thank you very much.
Javi Reddy has spent most of his career within the business communications realm, as a Communications Manager. He has written on various platforms within a corporate environment. His career has seen him work at companies such as IBM; the Shoprite Group and Telesure Investment Holdings, whilst also freelancing for a few sporting and entertainment publications. Aside, from being the Grand Prize Winner in the Eyelands Magazine short story contest, his story ‘Sit Down; You’re Brown’ was awarded runner-up in the ‘The SA Writers College 2019 Annual Short Story Competition’. His debut novel, 12 Yards Out, will soon be released after being handled by a UK publishing house. Javi lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.