Sunday, 19 October 2008

Joyce Hicks

What inspired you to write 'The Keeper's Keeper'? Joyc'es story is ideally read on 13 December
My story is called 'The Keeper's Keeper'. What inspired me was an article in Writing Magazine. It was basically talking about the avoidance of stereotypes. One example given was that of guardian angels who, the article suggested, might be far more interesting if they weren't young and beautiful and 'celestial'. How about if they appeared to be old, down-and-out, alcoholic, etc.etc. And so Rita was born. I did a little research on park keepers, and the main theme of my story (rundown park, threat of closure, and its rescue by a determined keeper, lottery money and volunteers) actually happened in the UK a few years ago.
What other material do your normally write?
These days I write only short stories. I started my writing career with novels, and wrote four, all of which came winging back to me. It was the start of my writing career, I was still learning, and they simply weren't good enough. I've also written articles, for a small press, local magazine, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The magazine eventually closed, and I didn't pursue article writing.
What made you become a writer?
I don't think I actually 'became' a writer overnight, as it were. I've always loved writing (and reading). I was always good at English grammar at school, and loved essays and compositions which never seemed to require any great effort for me to write, so I was lucky in that respect. From there I think my need to write evolved into letter writing for many years, especially when I lived in Australia for a very long time. Long letters home to friends and family were my lifeline. And when I say long letters, we're talking about between 2,000 - 4,000 words per (typed) letter!
Which writers do you admire?
Almost too many to count. All the classics, e.g. Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Wilkie Collins, Jerome K .Jerome, F. Scot Fitzgerald, Henry James. And then there's Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, Frederick Forsyth, Harlan Coben, Robert Harris, Ian Fleming. And those are just the ones I can remember!
Tell us something about your writing routine.
Basically, I don't have much of a writing routine at all. But as soon as I get an idea for a story, then I give it full attention, and everything else goes by the board. I'm also constantly thinking in terms of plots and characters and situations, and I think subconsciously I'm always tuned in to possible ideas for stories. You sort of develop an antennae that's 'on' all the time, whether you're aware of it or not. So in a sense you're writing all the time, even if it's solely in your head.
Do you have a favourite place for writing?
I write in our spare room, which was once our daughter's room, although she's long since vacated it and now lives in France. But this is where the computer is now, plus shelves groaning with books, and the whole room is set up as an office, with folders and files and shoe boxes full of bits and pieces of paper, notes, etc. I try to keep some semblance of order and sometimes manage it. Other times it looks like an explosion in a paper factory!

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