When Brian Keaney’s father and uncle became estranged after both had left their native Ireland for England, it took some fancy footwork on the part of Keaney’s mother to bring about a reconciliation between the brothers.
Although writers are often asked about their favourite tools – from pens to laptops – the chairs on which they sit to write are seldom mentioned. Alex Games wonders why so little attention has been paid to this crucial piece of furniture.
Editing one’s own work can be a painful process, argues Nick Holdstock. Most writers are reluctant to ‘kill their darlings’, in Faulkner’s famous phrase. But if one can overcome this feeling, it can only make for a better work. At least that’s what he tells himself.
Like many young writers, Lizzie Nunnery resisted the idea that literary inspiration needed to be subjected to editing and revision. But then she came to see these as an organic, and essential, part of the writing process.
The gift of a poem from Seamus Heaney to the author’s mother unlocked childhood memories for Bernie McGill of the ‘settle bed’ which is the subject of the poem, and of the elderly woman to whom it belonged.
When researching his historical novels, Andrew Martin always starts with a map drawn around the time in which his story is set, in order to explore at first-hand the world he is trying to envisage. This has led him to some surprising revelations — and occasional near-mishaps.
As the author of four books of memoir, Rosemary Bailey found herself engaging with the lives of a diverse range of people: from the inhabitants of her late brother’s Yorkshire parish to those of the Pyrenean village where she and her family lived. From these encounters came friendships, but also occasional fallings-out, all of which was wonderful material for her writing.
In researching her biography of the artist Gwen John, Sue Roe sifted through hundreds of letters and notebooks, in archives held in Aberystwyth, Paris and New York. From these, she came to know a very different woman from the fragile recluse of popular myth.