Friday, August 3, 2012

Interview with Sophie Duffy

I’m delighted to welcome Sophie Duffy to the blog today. Sophie is the winner of the 2010 Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary and the Yeovil Literary Prize 2006. 'The Generation Game' was her debut novel published in August 2011, inspired by Sophie's childhood growing up in a sweet shop in Torquay. She lives by the seaside in Devon with her husband and their three teenagers and is a member of the RNA and Exeter Writers. She has a very naughty Tibetan Terrier. Do tell us what made you want to write and how you got your first break? 

I always enjoyed writing stories at school and spent a lot of time daydreaming, especially when trying to get to sleep at night - I’ve always been an insomniac.My first break was winning the Yeovil Literary Prize in 2006 for THE GENERATION GAME back when it was a work-in-progress. More than anything, this gave me the confidence to believe that I was actually a ‘proper’ writer - whatever that is.

Did you ever take part in a writing course, and did it help to kickstart your career? 

I am a great believer that there is much to learn about the craft of writing. You wouldn’t be a painter without going to art school or studying the masters. Yes, you need some talent, a spark, but you also need to learn the rules so you can be free to flout them. You need to learn how to be thick-skinned in the barrage of rejections that will come your way. Doing an evening class and then an MA in Creative Writing helped immensely with this. A course with deadlines and accountability can help your stamina.

Which author has most influenced your work? 

There have been so many but I will name Fay Weldon, Kate Atkinson, David Lodge, Graham Swift, Sue Townsend, Carol Shields, Marina Lewycka, Laurie Graham, Kate Long, David Nicholls. I’m not saying I write like any of these wonderful novelists (I wish) but they write about family life and relationships with wit and poignancy - which is my aim.

How would you describe your own books? Under what genre or sub-genre do they come? 

My books are about family and relationships and are lit-lite, for want of a better phrase. I fall between those two bar stools of commercial and literary.

What do you do when the going gets tough?

Read. Drink tea. Drink wine. Take the dog for a walk on the beach. Have a bath. And maybe go away for a bit to a place without teenagers and washing and mouldy mugs. And make myself write.

If your book were ever filmed who would you choose for the hero and why?

Steve, the vicar, would be someone lovable and sweet like Alan Davies. Martin, the brother, would be someone able to do obnoxious well, like Neil Pearson.

Do you think it important for a writer to take time off? What hobbies give you a break from writing?

Yes, it’s important to take time off and not just to get to the bottom of the laundry basket. Time away makes you yearn to get back to your work. And gives you fresh eyes to read it when you do.

If you could slip into a time machine and meet a famous historical figure from the past, who would you choose and why?

Mary Magdalene. Who was she? What made her give up everything and support a band of revolutionaries. What did she really feel about Jesus? Why did he choose to appear to her first after he left the tomb? She was the first woman vicar of the Christian church as far as I’m concerned.

Can you tell us something of what you are working on now?

A novel about four people - two men, two women - who were close friends as students. Two of them are now married to each other but otherwise they have lost touch, for very good reason. Now, one of them brings them back together and they have to confront what happened back in the 80s.

THIS HOLEY LIFE is your latest book, tell us what inspired you to write it. 

I had the idea to write about a vicar’s wife but to make this more interesting I wanted her to be a reluctant vicar’s wife (her husband was a plumber when he had a dramatic conversion on the way to Dartford). My brother is a minister and I am friends with ministers’ wives and also female ministers. I’m intrigued with this unpaid role that comes without a job description and that can be very intrusive on family life.

Vicky is a reluctant curate's wife, struggling to come to terms with her own bereavement and her husband's new-found faith. Then, one Boxing Day, a knock on the door brings her annoying big brother, his teenage son and a cello into her life, turning her world upside down. With her small terrace house in Penge now fit to burst, Vicky struggles to manage her three children and the joys of everyday family life. As a new threat lurks behind every corner, hope appears in the most unlikely of circumstances. An enchanting, funny, sad yet bittersweet tale of life and living, one that reminds us it's not a race at all... but a journey. Published in August 2012 by Legend Press. She is represented by Broo Doherty.
Thank you for finding time to talk to us today Sophie. We wish you every success with your new books. To find out more visit Sophie’s website. 
Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:

1 comment:

Liz Fielding said...

Great interview, Sophie. This Holey Life sounds just my kind of book. Can't wait to read it.