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
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
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
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
‘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