Welcome to the first of (hopefully) many interviews with budding writers in and around Edinburgh. Their purpose is not only to highlight the amazing literary potential within the city, but also to give advice (new writer-to-new writer) to other budding writers.
First in line is literature student, Jennifer Hayward. Currently studying at the University of Edinburgh, I talk to Jennifer about inspiration, writing techniques and goats . . .
I mainly write a blog, but I also write short stories, and I run a newsletter for triathlon clubs in Edinburgh so I write stuff for that as well. My natural instinct is to aim for humour when I’m writing, but I do take the occasional detour into the serious. For me there is no greater triumph than making someone chuckle embarrassingly loudly in a public place. I also find that, even when you do have a serious point to make, there are few things more persuasive than laughter.
What is your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
I like all sorts really, but whatever genre it is, I find it’s got to have characters I invest in; otherwise it won’t hold my interest for very long. I have to admit I quite enjoy a nice bit of trashy crime fiction when the end of term rolls around and I just want a good story without having to think too much about it.
Which authors inspired you to start writing?
It’s probably a massive writerly faux-pas to include the “Animal Ark” series as an inspiration, but I’m sure it will have been all the authors I read as a kid that had the most influence over me beginning to write. People like Roald Dahl, Lucy Daniels, Eoin Colfer, Sylvia Waugh. The writers who inspire me to keep writing are easier to list. The main person has got to be Caitlin Moran – she’s funny, she’s a feminist, she writes common sense in a way that is hilarious, and she’s made this her job. That gives me hope.
What’s your favourite genre or format to write?
I enjoy writing my blogs the most, partly because they’re relatively short and I get a chance to take something and try to be as funny as I possibly can about it for 700ish words. It’s a nice outlet because it’s fairly quick to do and quick to get responses to it. But there is also great satisfaction in working away at drafts and drafts of a story and hopefully ending up with something you’re really happy with.
How do you come up with a story idea?
Now there’s a question! I’ll be very impressed if anyone manages to give you a sensible answer to this one! I get ideas for my blog from things that happen to me, things I see or overhear when I’m wandering around Edinburgh. But for the stories, I’ve really no idea, they just sort of turn up. And I often have no idea how they’re going to end until I’m part way through.
What kind of characters do you enjoy writing the most?
Animals, they’re funny. No really, they are. Anything funny you can imagine a person doing, it’s ten times funnier if you imagine a goat doing it.
What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?
“How To Be A Woman”, but someone already has, Caitlin Moran. She’s awesome, everyone should read it. It’s basically everything that someone should tell you, but no-one ever will, so you’ll have to read the book. And it’s funny, so that’s a bonus.
What do you plan to read next?
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For more from the delightful Ms. Hayward, visit her blog at A Lot Like Jen