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Troubador Author Interviews - Jude Hayland
Jude Hayland began her writing career as a short story writer for women’s magazines and for over 25 years was published widely in both UK and internationally. After completing an M.A. in Creative Writing, she turned to full-length fiction and has now written 3 novels. Here she tells us about her latest exciting plot.
Tell us about your book...
Miller Street SW22 is a contemporary story spanning 12 months – from autumn 2005 to summer 2006. Five people move into flats in a converted Edwardian house in southwest London and are drawn together by preparations for a centenary street party. The novel explores the significance of past events and how these affect lives and consequent relationships. Like my previous two books, it’s a character-driven novel.
When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember – I’ve always loved writing and have always been an obsessive reader. I used to write stories in exercise books bought from Woolworths - even as quite a young child. As an adult, however, it was starting a career as an English teacher that pulled me back to writing – to a compulsion to create stories and characters and explore the complexities of people and relationships.
What topic or subject have you found it most challenging to write about?
I am not sure I have found one yet – so often it is by writing about a subject that some sort of understanding of it arises. However, it is true that in Miller Street SW22, one of the characters, Lydia, is suffering from a neurological illness that my own late mother developed – I did find it quite hard revisiting the emotions and experiences of that time although felt it was something I needed to do.
After writing the book, how did you decide how and when to publish?
This is the third book that I have published with Troubador/Matador so for me it was the only choice! After numerous re-drafts, rewrites and edits, I eventually pressed the submit button – which always feels rather frightening and finite!
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Making characters up – it’s wonderful deciding what people are like and controlling their lives and their fates. But I also love simply playing around with language and the rhythm of words and sentences. It has to sound right.
What do you enjoy the least about writing?
Publicity and marketing! I love talking about my writing once I’m asked to do so – but I find it hard to be assertive in seeking out such opportunities initially. Also, writing the back cover blurb and the synopsis are not enjoyable– much harder than writing the entire novel!
What is your favourite ever book? And what is your favourite classic title?
My favourite class title is definitely George Eliot’s Middlemarch – I think I’ve read it about a dozen times. Favourite ever? Very hard to say, but I can never be far from copies of Golding’s Lord of the Flies and Michael Cunningham’s The Hours.
What book do you wish you had written and why?
Lord of the Flies and/or The Hours! – for the final few paragraphs of each which really sum up everything there is to say about being human, profoundly yet so economically.
Do you prefer reading printed book, ebooks or audiobooks – and why?
Printed books every time. I have never owned a Kindle and have never read an eBook. I like the physical sensation of holding a book, the sense of turning over pages, arranging the books on my groaning bookshelves and dipping back into favourites. Also, I spend far too much time staring at screens – particularly recently with life transferred to screen communication - to want to do that when reading for pleasure.
What are your top tips for aspiring writers?
Keep going. And keep going. Write everything and anything. And read widely. Be very self-critical, but also be assured that it’s the one profession where the greater experience you have of life, the richer your writing is likely to be. You are never too old to write!
Where do you like to do your writing?
In my small study at home –it’s at the top of the house and feels suitably tucked away. Also at a house in North West Crete that I share with extended family – it’s wonderful to work with the sound of cicadas in the background!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I feel a need to mention the wonderful artist, Josephine Chisholm, who painted the cover image for Miller Street SW22. She completely captured what I asked her for in a very stumbling kind of way. I think it’s perfect!