“I wish I had a more reliable way of figuring out how to write. It’s all just intuition and waking dreams.” – Robbie Arnott
Posts tagged "Writers’ paths"
Light in a world of darkness

Light in a world of darkness

In 2013, Icelanders voted for the most beautiful word in their language. They chose a nine-letter one, the job title of a healthcare worker, the Icelandic term for midwife: ljósmóðir. In its reasoning, the jury stated that the word was a composite of the two most beautiful words: móðir, meaning mother, and ljós which means light.  Although I had two...
Approaching The Peckham Experiment

Approaching The Peckham Experiment

Five and a half years after the appalling tragedy of Grenfell Tower, the public inquiry has finally completed more than 300 public hearings. Richard Millett KC, counsel to the inquiry, declared: “Each and every one of the deaths that occurred… was avoidable.” He mapped out the way the companies, authorities and individuals involved had all...
Africa uncovered

Africa uncovered

We launched the It’s a Continent podcast in March 2020. The idea stemmed from us questioning our understanding of the histories of the countries we were from and of the wider continent. Having grown up in the UK (Chinny in Southend-on-Sea and Astrid in Plymouth), our exposure to black history primarily focused on African-American figures....
It started with a chair

It started with a chair

I’d been swimming in the Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath and was walking home along the lane, stomping colour back into my toes, when I bumped into a lifeguard friend who I hadn’t seen for a few weeks. When she isn’t at the pond, she’s usually making giant sculptures, weaving willow into stunning shapes. But...
Imagining an island

Imagining an island

While fine-tuning my fourth novel, Missing, I started thinking about my fifth. In the Scottish Borders, fact-checking my references to Hawick, I mentioned to the friend with whom we were staying that I was thinking of setting my next novel somewhere totally fictional, somewhere superficially familiar but with local customs and minor rules that would...
Ink blots in the trunk

Ink blots in the trunk

Every aspiring writer is familiar with the concept of the ‘trunk novel’. This is the novel that doesn’t make it to the bookshelf, but instead gets tucked into a bottom desk drawer or old USB drive after refusing to do what its writer wants it to do. Often it’s the writer’s first attempt at a...
Grief and transformation

Grief and transformation

My debut novel This Shining Life is a meditation on grief. It follows a family on their journey through bereavement after the death of Rich, a beloved father, son, husband and friend. When I first invented his character I saw him in a garden at dawn with the sky pale and peachy behind him. He...
Why I write

Why I write

Why do I write? I often ask myself this question. Bottom line is, tough and demoralising as producing books always is, with the countless rewrites and stinging rejections, it is actually much more painful not writing. I always say anyone who can give up writing, does. It’s deep in my soul. I have two lines...
The Curious Rise of Alex Lazarus and its curious evolution

The Curious Rise of Alex Lazarus and its curious evolution

If you had asked the eight-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you I fancied serving in the army or being an accountant like my father. Indeed, I was obsessed that he had a drinks cabinet built into his office desk, which seemed the epitome of sophistication. Of...
Behind the mask

Behind the mask

There’s a movie I love called The Red Violin, by Canadian filmmaker François Girard. I was in university when it came out in 1998, and watched it in one of those old theatres where the seats were upholstered in rough velour, the tickets were cheap and the popcorn stale. The Red Violin, if you’re not...
A novel in two voices

A novel in two voices

In writing a story about what happens to a couple after the husband reveals that he has been visiting prostitutes for many years, I wanted to make readers aware of the trauma suffered by the partners of such men. The two main characters emerged quickly, mostly from interviews with women in that situation. Academic studies...
Homing in on Hopper

Homing in on Hopper

I have always been a bit sniffy about biographical fiction, the mining of a personal life for the sake of a story, particularly when that person is no longer around to defend him or herself. So how come I ended up writing a novel about one of the greatest artists of the 20th century –...