On Fiction Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these fiction writers you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
was born in the Black Country. She worked nights in a Wolverhampton petrol station before becoming a secondary school teacher. She wrote her first novel, The Black Country, whilst studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, for which she gained a distinction and was awarded the Michael Schmidt Prize for Outstanding Achievement 2013–14. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Wolverhampton, researching Psychogeography and Black Country Writing. Gamble is her second novel.
Here’s a link to Salt Publishing’s website with info about her two novels: https://www.saltpublishing.com/collections/vendors?q=Kerry%20Hadley-Pryce
A link to her website: https://kerryhadley-pryce.weebly.com/
- What inspired you to write fiction?
I can’t remember not wanting to write – physically handwrite, I’m talking about. My parents used to give me notebooks before I went to school and I used to write ‘details’ in there. My Dad kept them all, these notebooks. I used to love the feel of the pen in my hand. When it came to writing fiction, I always loved making up stories, creating comic books (or ‘graphic novels’ as they’d be called now). I think it was my Dad, who read a lot to me and encouraged me to be a read, and who introduced me to the library, who inspired me to begin writing fiction.
- Who introduced you to fiction?
Reading fiction? My Dad. He was a very committed reader and borrower of books. He believed that reading was vital, and he encouraged me to read as widely as possible. School, I hated, in every single way, so whatever works of fiction I was introduced to (‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Macbeth’ together with a lot of war poetry, as I remember) had no impact on me whatsoever.
- How aware were you of the dominating presence of older writers?
I read a lot of Dickens as a kid, and made a project of reading everything by Edgar Allan Poe, so, yes, very aware, I’d say.
- What is your daily writing routine?
I work to a self-imposed deadline every week. I put together a timetable every Sunday night so I know where I am. I like to write a short story every week, so at some point in my timetable, that happens, but it depends where I am with the project I’m working on as to how the routine goes. Now, for example, I’m editing a novel, which is a different to writing the first draft. I like to make an early start on that, so a 5am start is good as I can get a couple of quiet hours in before the issues of the day start to crowd in. I have a break about 7.30am, take the dog for a walk, then take myself to the gym (I run 10km a day) and might have a couple of hours later on in the day. I’m a Visiting Lecturer at Wolverhampton University, where I’m a PhD candidate, so fit that in, and a bit of property development.
- What motivates you to write?
This is a good question. The therapy of it, really. I think it’s like some kind of meditation, for me, a way of getting into a proper state of flow. Writing is a solitary process, and I like that aspect of it. It’s a bit like wakeful dreaming. If I don’t write, I actually feel ill.
- What is your work ethic?
Organised, purposeful, serious (see question 4.).
- How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I remember reading ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and being profoundly moved by it when I was about eight. There is, of course, a depth of darkness about that novel that is utterly affecting. I missed out a lot of the ‘appropriate’ fiction when I was a kid, skipping across to Andrea Newman quite quickly. That sense of darkness and domestic crisis seem to be themes I return to now.
- Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Not in any particular order: Paul Auster – I love the way he evokes a sense of place. Now, here’s a creepy fact: I went to New York a couple of years back and cruised around Park Slope in Brooklyn because that’s where he lives… (I didn’t see him, sadly.) Vesna Main is a brilliant short story writer. Her work has an excellent unsettling feel. Cynan Jones, because he has an amazing way of constructing sentences and he writes short novels, set in Wales which are absolutely exquisitely dark. Daphne Du Maurier, obviously. She was prolific and her short stories ‘The Birds’ and ‘Don’t Look Now’ are outstanding. Jennifer Egan, for her very clever, experimental writing. Michel Faber who is a total master of writing about place, of making the everyday not everyday at all. I could go on…
- Why do you write?
I love everything about it. I like the intrinsic pleasure of it. I like it when an idea materialises as a plot. Through writing I’ve met some fantastically talented people I’d never have met otherwise.
- What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
You have to think of ‘becoming a writer’ as ‘becoming an athlete’. Same thing. See, just because you can run a bit doesn’t automatically make you a champion marathon runner, and just because you can physically put pen to paper doesn’t make you a ‘writer’. Professional writing is a cognitive process, so you need to write, write, write, and read, read, read as much as you possibly can. You need to suck it up, learn and write. You need to actually do it. You need to be open-minded to criticism and rejection, take advantage of any opportunity to write, and you need to heed advice. You need to do it, then do it some more. You need to stop thinking about it and do it. You have to get your head round the fact that not everything you write will work, or be any good. That doesn’t matter. We’re lucky to live in the times we do, as far as writing is concerned, because there are so many ways you can get your work out there: attend open mic nights, construct a website, do a creative writing course – any way you can motivate yourself to write, do it. Don’t go worrying about that massive multi-million pound publishing deal because that’s not the point. Make a project of your writing. Keep busy. When someone asks, tell them you’re a writer. Make a decision, and do it.
- Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
My first two novels, ‘The Black Country’ and ‘Gamble’ are published by Salt Publishing, and I’m writing my third novel with a working title of ‘God’s Country’. It’s part of my PhD in Psychogeographic Flow in Black Country Writing, and is another novel set in the Black Country. As I’m editing it, I am aware it’s becoming more and more dark and more unsettling, which I’m pleased about. I have a short story due to be published by Fictive Dreams, and I’m writing more of those. I had an idea for a series of ‘Black Country Noir’ novels, so I’ve written the opening to one of those, and that’s simmering on the back burner. Teaching creative writing is a pleasure of mine, as is my Visiting Lecturer work at Wolverhampton Uni. I’m also involved with a ‘Smells and Memory’ project called ‘Snidge Scrumpin’’ at the university, in which we’re researching Black Country smells and the memories they invoke, and I’m also writing some non-fiction for that.