Island Life, Word Birds & Process
As part of her series of Author & Poet Interviews for the upcoming Narberth Book Fair, one of the events organisers, the wondrous Judith Barrow, invited me. Having failed at the re-blogging, I’ve copied it.
Our author today is the ever ebullient and friendly fellow Honno author, Carol Lovekin.
Let’s start by you telling us why you write, please, Carol.
Because I can’t play the piano is the glib answer. The truth is simpler: I love it. I’m me when I write. The person it took me years to become. And reading books made me want to write them. I can’t say I have huge ambitions (other than winning the Bailey’s Women’s Prize, obvs.) I write because it makes me happy.
What do you love most about the writing process?
The unfolding of the story. How it emerges as a spark, a ‘What if?’ moment and unfolds into an outline and a plot. I love the way characters make themselves known to me. It’s like meeting new friends, people I had no idea existed. And I’m addicted to editing.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I’m a lark and awake with the birds. I often handwrite in bed over a cup of tea. Random ideas, scenes and vignettes for my current story, for the next one and quite often the one I’m planning down the line. Each story has its own notebook. My aim is to be at my desk, working on my current story no later than ten o’clock. If I’m feeling particularly creative – down and deep with my story – it’s often a lot earlier. Word count is of no concern to me – showing up is what matters.
What do you think makes a good story?
Characters who endear themselves to me on the first page; perhaps shock me. So long as they make me want to find out more. A quality writing style that draws me in. I don’t mind simple stories – a sense of place is as important to me as a convoluted plot. That said, I’m a sucker for a twist that takes my breath away.
How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
Two. (The ones in the metaphorical dusty drawer don’t count.) Asking me to pick a favourite is a borderline Sophie’s Choice scenario, Judith! Ghostbird because it was the book that validated me as a writer. Snow Sisters because it proves I’m not a one-trick pony!
I love this cover
What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?
I call them ghost stories laced with magic; contemporary fiction with a trace of mystery. My mentor, the lovely Janet Thomas, says they are family stories (with magic.) Which I guess is as good a description as any since, magical edges notwithstanding, they are firmly rooted in family relationships. I feel as if I’ve found my niche as a writer and have no plans to write in any other genre.
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
Snow Sisters explores what can happen when an act of kindness, enacted by a child, offers the hope of redemption to a tragic ghost with a horrific secret. It’s also a story of love, exploring the ties that bind sisters. And the tragic ones that can destroy mothers and daughters.
In three words, can you describe your latest book?
Ghostly. Quirky. Welsh.
Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
I don’t trust morality! Perhaps: Listen to your grandmother for she is wiser than Yoda?
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reins of the story?
Regularly. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s some kind of Literary Law. At some point characters are required to run off into the wild wordy wood and we have no choice but to follow, more often than not without our breadcrumbs.
Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
I’m a trained ballet dancer.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Although I begin at the beginning, within less time than it takes for me to say, ‘Oh look, shiny!’ I’m off to the middle (anywhere, frankly) and I can be gone some time. I write entire scenes in isolation slotting them into the narrative as I go.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read, swim and walk. After writing and reading, swimming is the best thing ever. Each week I discuss writing with my talented friend and co-conspirator, Janey. We are the sole members of the smallest writing group in Wales.
What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you? Not particularly to do with your writing.
Meeting Margaret Atwood in the eighties made me smile for a week.
Give us a random fact about yourself.
I don’t like even numbers.
That was fun! Thanks, Judith!