When it comes to writing, I’m drawn to issues that trouble, inspire or amuse me. And I love language, so I might just play with that.
I feel a responsibility to reflect the way we live now, rather than leaving it to some future historian. It’s not just a question of ‘writing what you know’ – in fact, it’s a good idea to write about what you want to know. But I have this delusion that in reflecting on the present, we help shape the future. It’s hard to find an art form which is better adapted than the novel to examining the light and shade of human experience, and taking us beyond events into the thoughts and feelings of others.
I’m interested in real people, who find themselves in real situations. Pace, surprise, emotion, humour, crisp description – these are all things I aim to create. And to have fun doing it.
If you’d like to travel to an extraordinary place quite close to home, come and join me!
How the novel Joe Faber and the Optimists came to be written. With a reading, in which Joe aims to re-establish the connection with his immobile limbs, and his struggle to express himself in words is in its way creative…
I was born in Liverpool, so I grew up with the belief that you could laugh at just about anything, starting with yourself. My earliest attempts at fiction were bedtime stories for my brothers and sister, which carried on long after they’d fallen asleep.
Too much Chekhov at an early age meant I ended up studying Modern Languages instead of Eng Lit. The serious down side to this was that I didn’t mix with other writers – I don’t even remember telling anybody that I wanted to write myself. And the greats were just so… great. Whatever I wanted to achieve, some genius had got there first! Hmm. So, like many sensible and bookish women of my generation, I talked myself out of writing. I had to earn a living and found I loved teaching. Far from devoting the holidays to writing fiction, I discovered the day job was a sponge which soaked up all available creativity — and I can’t regret that. I’ve worked in the Midlands, Essex and Dorset in a variety of roles, publishing teaching materials along the way.
Finding a local writing group was a game changer for me. I realised I hadn’t physically put pen to paper and created something in the presence of other people since finals. Contact with other writers is indispensable! We all learn from each other and having readers suddenly makes your work real. So if you’re starting to write, find a writing group near you.