TSS Publishing Interview: Mammals, I Think We Are Called by Giselle Leeb

Interview: Mammals, I Think We Are Called by Giselle Leeb

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We interviewed Giselle Leeb about her literary-fantastical, genre-bending debut collection, Mammals, I Think We Are Called.

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00.00: Intro. Themes: apes, the environment, outsiders, the twenty-first century, and the fantastic.

00.40: Apes. Are You Cold Monkey? Are You Cold? (story): Harry Harlow’s controversial monkey experiments showing the importance of affection for development.

3.27: Doctors.

5.14: Barleycorn (story) – folk horror comes to the city. Transition from realism to surrealism. Environmentalism and climate change, Theory versus action and fiction.

11.00: Thrutopia (the middle way between Utopia and Dystopia). Praxis. Should fiction have overt messages? Writing from the unconsious and free writing.

15.46: Structure/form – playing around.

18.14: Style and theme. Drowning (story) – landscape, the Karoo semi-desert, South Africa. The vastness of time versus the everyday. The future and tech. Where we are going and what type of people we’re going to become. How we see ourselves because of technology. Cryogenics, tech millionaires, narcissism, the selfie world.

28.02: Pain, happiness, suffering and writing. Religion. Jung. Psychology. The individual versus the herd. God is dead, what’s coming next?

33.54: Choosing what to include and the order of a short story collection. Fantastical elements. Themes. Fantastika. Genre.

39.11: If you could go back to when you started writing, what would you tell yourself?

41.50: Writing tips: Finishing stories – don’t give up too soon, does it have energy?, you can go further than you think.

46.36: Writing tips: What is free writing? Directed free writing. Writing prompts.

I think human beings always have that strange mixture…the vastness of time and yet you have to go to the shop and buy some milk.

Giselle Leeb

On writing: Don’t give up because you don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s part of it.”

Giselle Leeb


Giselle Leeb’s debut short story collection, ‘Mammals, I Think We Are Called’, is published by Salt. Her short stories have been widely published in journals, magazines, and anthologies, including Best British Short Stories 2017 (Salt), Ambit, Mslexia, The Lonely Crowd, Litro, Black Static, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. She has been placed and shortlisted in competitions including the Ambit, Bridport and Mslexia prizes, and won the Seventy2One Short Story Competition for climate fiction, judged by Lucie McKnight Hardy. She is an assistant editor at Reckoning Journal and a Word Factory Apprentice Award winner 2019. She grew up in South Africa and lives in Nottingham.