Tuesday, 21 October 2008
What inspired you to write "The Tricks of Firelight"?
The first draft of Tricks of Firelight grew out of my feeling for the importance of Advent and my wish to re-tell the Christmas Eve story for adults. I used the Polish setting because I love Polish Christmas Eve. I have lived and worked in Poland and have made this country my life-long study.
What material do your normally write?
I write poetry and prose. I have pubished three collections of my own poetry and around thirty books for adults and children as well as contributing to anthologies, magazine, radio and television. I'm now turning back to children's fiction with Polish themes.
What made you become a writer?
My mother who read to me - but she read to my twin too and she became a nurse. I have been writing stories and novels since my earliest years. Poetry came rather later. Housebound with my first baby I began to send my work out to publishers and my writing life developed from that.Which writers do you admire? George Mackay Brown; Keats; Shakespeare, of course, Chaucer; Dostojevsky, Tolstoy: all well-crafted work.I read voraciously in Polish and English.
Tell us something about your writing routine.
It gets interrupted by family agendas, visitors, travel, peoples' needs and sunshine! Most days I try to write from around 9.30 am with breaks for meals. When a novel is going well I work at it all the time, but research comes into the pattern. I used to find lots of thinking happened in the bath - but I have showers nowadays so my thinking happens on the bus or in the swimming pool.
Do you have a favourite place for writing?
When I started off I wrote by hand and typed those endless carbon copies, full of mistakes. I kept my files in wicker basket I bought in Glastonbury, but they got too heavy and the bottom fell out. To my immense surprise I found that I enjoyed writing straight into a computer. I think it's because you can see your work appearing on the screen. Nowadays I mostly use a lap top. I sit at an old writing desk that belonged to my grandmother,the sort with a fold down lid. The drawers are full of notebooks. I look at the blank wall ahead ofme,with a picture of two seal cubs my daughter drew long ago and a quote from Joseph Conrad stuck up next to them. There are pictures on every other wall, books and photographs around me and I can lean back in my chair and over my right shoulder I see a garden and trees.