There are those who might or might not see the city of Durham and its University reflected in the pages of Bug. I couldn’t possibly say, of course. However after a wonderful launch in November of the book at Durham’s St Mary’s College (where I worked), the Durham student magazine Palatinate interviewed me about writing. Here’s a part of what’s just been published.
… What do you think are the first steps to becoming a writer? Don’t get it right, get it written (after James Thurber). The most extraordinary things come out of your subconscious. I think it’s about allowing yourself to write from your emotions and your gut, and not write what you think you ought to write. Writing from the gut meant that I would be sitting at my laptop and suddenly I would realise ‘is that what was happening, that makes complete sense!’ – it happened all the time with BUG. Because I myself must be on a journey as the writer, I must be on a voyage of discovery as well, letting the story emerge organically. If you try to manipulate it, it doesn’t work. It has to flow.
Nice review by Anne Hamilton at the beginning of the year.
“Newburgh is definitely more Oxford/Cambridge than red-brick university and the hierarchies between faculty and students and the so-called ‘town and gown’ are very clear – until the characters start blurring them. Isla, herself, is the person whose role sits somewhat in the middle.
“The setting is strong – the traditional and elite college life being nibbled at the edges by the need to move with the times – and the characters largely engaging and, in some cases, all too realistic. It’s not just a description of campus life either, there are several dimensions to the plot that finally come together…in time to face the now-fabled Millennium Bug.”
Met Suzannah Dunn in Bath for lunch. What a privilege to spend time with someone who is so ready to help me on my writing journey. Mostly I have learned that the small intimate details are what build a story and a character. Also, go easy on the melodrama! And finally, be careful of cliché, as in the old wise woman who offers pearls of wisdom when the protagonist needs reassurance and insight.