I'd like to welcome you to my first interview with a writer, myself. Enjoy.
Hello Rebeccah, can you please introduce yourself.
I'm Rebeccah, a writer, currently living in a small village, just outside of Lowestoft in Suffolk.
That's a nice part of the world, so I hear. How long have you been writing?
I used to write a lot when I was young, but fell out of love with anything literary during my teens. Thankfully my love was rekindled at university. So I've written solidly and seriously for about seven years.
What first got you interested in writing?
My dad always used to make up bedtime stories, and his way of creating fantastic new places and characters on the spur of the moment made me realise that there was more to this world; I could escape to wherever I wanted through my own imagination.
Do you attend a writing group?
I attend Lowestoft Library Writing Group, which meets every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 7pm. I started going there at the beginning of 2009. I also run the Teen Writing Group at Lowestoft Library. We have only had one session, but we will be meeting on the 2nd Monday of the month at 5pm.
Why do you attend a writing group?
Writing can be a very lonely activity. We spend time alone at our desks, writing. Writers seem to live in solitude. A writing group is a brilliant way of sharing the love for the craft with other people who know what you’re going through. It’s a place to get and also give support, help and encouragement with all aspects of the writing world. I also like the writing prompts and homework suggestions we are given, as they often help with the dreaded writers' block. I've also been given the opportunity to write about topics, or write in certain styles, that I wouldn't have previously considered.
I couldn't agree more. What is the most valuable thing you've taken away from your writing group?
To not be scared of your writing. Just write and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.
What genres do you normally write?
I don’t really write according to the ‘rules’ of genres. I just write whatever happens to be in my head. I’ve written about love and murder and mystery and childhood and realistic fiction and even a bit of sci-fi. Most genres tend to end up in my stories somewhere.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
I find it difficult to write horror. I don’t know why. Perhaps because it’s not something that I would normally read, so I wouldn’t have the inspiration to write it.
What types of things do you write?
I’ve written poetry, short stories, articles, interviews, parody song lyrics, radio plays, and I’ve recently written my first complete novel. I also write shopping lists, text messages, crossword answers and blog entries.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Phil Terry, one of my lecturers at university, was a big influence on my creativity as he introduced me to Oulipo, a form of experimental writing. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like how it pushes boundaries and encourages the writer (and I guess the reader) to look at things from a different point of view.My inspiration comes from life. I like people-watching, and there are some fascinating people out there. It could be someone on the bus or in a café or at the gym, and they do something or say something that stands out for me, and I use that as the basis for a fictional character or story.
Have you ever thought that you might be one of the fascinating people that other people write about?! How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
My characters’ names come from internet name generators. I find it very difficult to come up with names. I don’t like choosing names of people I know just in case they think that the character is based on them. The personalities just seem to grow as I write them.
What is your writing routine?
I wish I could say that I wake up at the crack of dawn, pick up my pen and write until the sun goes down, but I don’t. I find the actual sitting down and starting more difficult than the writing. I tend to write more at night, when I know the world (or my part of the world) is asleep and I've got nothing to distract me. When I get an idea, I have to write it down until I've run out of things to write.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I often know how I want a story to start and end, but it's the bit in the middle that comes as a surprise to me!
Do you have an editing process?
I write and edit as I go along. Then I print it out and go over it with my trusty red pen. I fix any punctuation, spelling or grammar errors, then I look for plot flaws. When I’m happy with that, I rewrite and print it off. I then give it to my parents who go over it with their trusty red pens. I sometimes give it to friends or people at my writing group to read over before I start the whole process again.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I don't like starting. I find that so difficult. Even if I've got an idea, I stare at the blank page and it intimidates me. But I love it when I actually get on and find myself in 'the zone', when my brain is working so fast that my fingers can't catch up.
Have you ever had anything published?
I was asked to write for a local magazine, The Kessingland and Broadland Times, and became a regular contributor. I wrote poetry, children’s stories, interviews and articles. I am currently looking to get my novel published.
Have you sent your novel to any agents or publishers? Have you received any rejections?
So far I have sent the first 30 pages of my novel and a synopsis to nine or ten literary agents, and I’ve received four rejections. It's a normal part of the writing process, but it's still not very nice experience.
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing? Are you interested in eBooks or do you prefer the old fashioned, paper-made books?
I would like to exhaust all the traditional channels before considering self-publishing. I have heard, however, that a lot can be said for e-publishing, so I may consider that after some research. I do prefer holding an actual book though. I love browsing bookshops and filling up my bookshelves with books that I may never get around to reading!
How important is it for you to share your writing?
Without sounding arrogant, I want the world to see my work. I feel that I have something to say, if only someone would hear it!
Have you ever entered any writing competitions?
I've entered a few competitions but never won anything.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or anything by Roald Dahl.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/films/songs, or any favourite literary quotations?
"So many books, so little time." ~ Frank Zappa
"A book in my hand and a dog by my side, we belong together." ~ Edward Gorey
"Why do writers write? Because it isn't there." ~ Thomas Berger
"In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everything, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite." ~ Paul Dirac
"The pages are blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible in and clamouring to become visible." ~ Vladimir Nabokov
"A room without books is like a body without a soul." ~ Cicero
What are you working on at the moment?
Too much. I’m very good at starting projects but not finishing them. I've got a collection of short stories about Christmas that I need to finish, as well as sorting out some of my children’s stories to get ready to send off to agents. Plus my writing group homework and some new poems to present at New Words, Fresh Voices.
Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers?
I regularly speak at the New Words, Fresh Voices open mic night hosted by The Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies and interests?
I knit, I bake, I paint, I make a mess with wax crayons and a heat gun, I take photos, and I make collages. I go to the gym. I don't always do anything when I'm there, but just going can sometimes be a workout in itself. I also spend time with my dog, exploring the village. There are some pretty interesting places if you look close enough. Oh, and I read, obviously.
What types of books do you read? Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
I judge books by their covers. I wander around the library and pick up books that have interesting covers, so I end up reading anything and everything. Most of the time they have interesting stories, so that’s always a bonus. I write what I would like to read. I just need to find some other people who would like to read what I write.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
Read, read, write and read. I don't know if anyone famous said that, but it's a good bit of advice.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Firstly, just write. Write anything. Even if you think it’s stupid, just write it. You don’t have to show anyone. Secondly, watch and listen. You could miss some little gems if you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Not at the moment thank you, but no doubt I’ll think of something later.
Do you have a website/blog/twitter/facebook dedicated to your writing?
I do indeed have a blog, and you're reading it right now. It is http://rebeccahgiltrow.blogspot.co.uk/
I occasionally tweet (or twit, as my dad says) at https://twitter.com/RebeccahGiltrow
And I set up a facebook page, but haven't got anything on there yet. Don't let that stop you having a look though, at http://www.facebook.com/Rebeccah.Giltrow.Writer
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
I wrote this for a piece of homework at writing group. It's untitled.
The sun beats in, the heat's gone. My brow furrows, my eyes fill with yellow. A shadow judders past; the car's twin tailgater invades, carrying a plane of grey that widens and spreads and takes over and then fades away. A row of brittle tree bones salute and stretch their limbs across the waning day. Gnawed knuckles of witches' fingers, gnarled vultures' talons, over-mascara'd eyelashes, dark cracks along aged artex. The tri-forked tongue of an energising moster spins slowly in the distance; ivory blades slashing through an icy sky. A moment captured by a mere blink in response to the shocking bulb of light that I can't help but keep my eyes on, an orb of white that refuses to drop below the horizon. Two birds partake in a mid-air waltz, a perfect pairing of grace and elegance, with swoop after twirl after lift. One partner departs to rest on a shivering telephone wire while the other performs a solo pirouette, finally settling in a well-balanced next. Faint water colour blue sweeps into a startling stonewash , flecked with specks of avian silhouettes. A pallid ribbon wraps around and separates the day from the pale orange evening. No red sky tonight. Woe betide the shepherds tomorrow. Do we even have shepherds anymore? The shop opposite blends into the background as the natural light waits to be replaced by flickering amber electricity. A couple, huddled from the freezing air behind a mask of scarves, hurry across newly tarmacked road, the freshly painted lines glow gold against the black. these tracks trace a wave past a winter empty car-park and disappear around a bend, and never end.
© Rebeccah Giltrow 2012Thank you, Rebeccah.