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My Writing Life: Monique Roffey

Monique Roffey author photo
  • 27 June, 2024

Monique Roffey, FRSL, is an award-winning Trinidadian-born British writer of novels, essays, literary journalism and a memoir. The Mermaid of Black Conch won the Costa Book of the Year Award, 2020, and was nominated for eight other major awards. Her other Caribbean novels, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle and House of Ashes have also been nominated for awards. Archipelago won the OCM Bocas Award for Caribbean Literature in 2013. Her work has been translated into many languages and adapted for screen. She is a co-founder of Writers Rebel within Extinction Rebellion. She is a Professor of Contemporary Fiction at Manchester Metropolitan University. Passiontide, her new novel, is out today.

This interview originally appeared on our Substack channel.

1. What book should every writer read?

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow.

2. What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started your writing career?

Stick with it, you’ll get better over time, your first books will be okay but not great… they’ll get better.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received about your writing?

Be yourself.

4. What is the most underestimated challenge about being a professional writer?

Poverty and financial insecurity for many years – and by this I mean decades. Get at least one, if not two other jobs.

5. What was the proudest moment of your writing career?

It just happened yesterday: going to visit the printers and seeing my books actually being made and coming hot off the press. It made me cry.

6. What is your typical writing day like?

Get woken up by cats, stagger to loo, pee, feed cats, let them out, make coffee. Scroll several social media channels for news and other bits of this and that. This all takes an hour. Settle to write.

That version – or , the same except no scrolling, after coffee. Settle in the silent dark hours, like 5-6 am, midwinter, selenite lamp on. I sit, in a kind of prayer, and write, in a kind of love mode.

It’s one or the other. Between books, I try not to even get out of bed.

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