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Style: Where did you originally find

Booker nominated and Baileys longlisted, so I

‘The Wacky Man’?

me so much about structuring and editing and

the inspiration for your debut novel

Lyn: It’s inspired by my own childhood. I

wanted to tell a story not often told; to give a

huge, unescapable voice to those too often

silenced - children suffering extreme violence at

home. I wanted to merge my experiences with

my obsession with fiction, so that I could tell a

story the way I wanted, weaving life and

imagination together.

really learnt from one of the masters. She taught

most important of all, she encouraged me to keep

wish I’d written and I can’t wait to read her

new novel, Lesser Bohemians, due out in September 2016.

going. She told me the book was something

What are the best and worst aspects of being

with, I worked hard to send her the best quality

The worst thing is not having enough time in the

special and though I wasn’t confident to start

work I could produce.

How did you feel to be named winner of the

Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary?

a published author?

day. I work full time and I’m trying to attend to

all the exciting things around the published book (organising reading events and festivals, writing articles and so on). This leaves me much less

I like to describe it as a state of blissful shock. I

time to write the next book. I’ve been getting by

in, I’d get an exciting and mysterious email from

would be ecstatic if I suddenly only needed four

copies’ and it would feel completely surreal

seven or eight!

it, in the same vein as ‘A Girl is a Half Formed

over the panic of knowing the book would be

There are so many best things. Firstly, finding

appeals to any reader who is not afraid of tough

about amazing opportunities, but I didn’t know

How would you describe the book and

what type of audience do you think it most

appeals to?

I would describe it as literary fiction, a novel

where the reader feels the book as much as reads

Thing’ or ‘The Colour Purple’. I would hope it

subjects in fiction because it was as important for

me to achieve beauty within the prose as it was

to resist shying away from the subject matter. How long did it take you to write?

It took ten long years. I didn’t take any creative

couldn’t believe it at first and every time it sank

the publishers about ‘cover reveals’ or ‘proof

again. I’ve enjoyed it all immensely - once I got

on less sleep that usual for the past month. I or five hours sleep a night instead of my

‘out there’. I knew that winning would bring

out that people like the book and are being

quite what to expect. I’ve now been launched

with all the people I have, novelists and readers

into the creative writing world and already I’ve

connected with some incredible novelists. I am

really grateful and extremely happy.

The Wacky Man has received brilliant initial

moved by it is wonderful. Secondly, connecting

and reviewers, the whole team at Legend Press

and with Elaine from the Luke Bitmead Trust.

I’ve got my first reading events and festivals

coming up soon which I’m wholeheartedly

looking forward to and no doubt there will be

writing courses until very recently, so I just

reviews, following the launch last month. Did

about seven years. I had so many false starts with

No, I didn’t expect anything like this. It was

What advice would you give to

reviews with a ‘tour de force’ description. I

Find mentorship, either through a writing group

real?!’ I am even more blown away by Clio’s

cost me so little (£9 or so a month) and there are

learned how to write by making mistakes for

the novel and had to put so much text aside that

wasn’t working. I also undertook so many

rewrites of pieces that were almost there, but not

quite, and the editing, from mentorship to

publisher, was another year at least. I wish I’d

realised that I was learning how to be a good

writer as it felt like a whole lot of failure at the

time. Now that I know I am learning all the time,

I’m encouraged to explore more ideas.

How did you motivate yourself to keep going

and finish writing the book?

you expect it to be as successful as it has been?

bizarre seeing my name in the Daily Mail Online

emailed Lucy at Legend press to say ‘Is this

endorsement and Annabel Abb’s quote (she won

the Impress prize for her brilliant, debut novel

‘The Joyce Girl). All the reviews from the blog

tour, Goodreads and Amazon reviewers mean the

world to me make me very emotional, in a good

other great surprises along the way. aspiring writers?

or one to one. My mentorship was invaluable yet free options out there for anyone on a tight

budget (for example the Womentoring project).

Mentorship will teach you how to approach your

work more critically and objectively, help you

develop a whole raft of editing skills and

way. I read them and feel “Ah, it was worth all

becoming better at working to deadlines.

all the readers who have taken on the book and

Do you have plans for a sequel or other

those years and all that work”. I’m indebted to

future novels?

I couldn’t give it up no matter how much I tried.

written such wonderful things about it.

the way I ‘saw’ it in my mind onto the page. I put

Who is your favourite author?

thought about it until this point but I’ll definitely

even a few years at one point, but it refused to

many to name’ because I’ve have hundreds of

working on my second novel, exploring the

I would get frustrated when I wasn’t able to get

it to one side so many times, for weeks, months,

leave and kept simmering away in my mind. I’d

find myself jotting down notes on a bus or eating

meals and even waking up in the night to

scribble something down. I was then fortunate

enough to stumble across Clio Gray, through the

HISSAC mentoring service who supported me

for the last eighteen months of writing. Clio’s

novel, ‘The Anatomist’s Dream, was Man

Until a few weeks ago I would have said ‘too

favourites, from the classics to 1970’s feminist

sci-fi and everything in between. However my

A few people have asked about a sequel. I hadn’t consider it. It will have to wait as I’m currently

healing powers of unusual friendship. It’s also an ambition of mine to write a comic novel and I’m

current favourite is Eimear McBride. Her novel

obsessed with flash fiction and silly poetry, so

astonishing. I spent the first few pages going

few years.

‘A Girl is a Half Formed Thing’ is simply

‘What the hell is this?’ and then, suddenly, I got

it and it’s this bone achingly sad, beautifully

crafted, work of art. It is absolutely the novel I

lots of projects to keep me busy over the next

Ruth Meredith