Getting a Grilling: An Interview with Helena Close
Helena is the author of three novels, ‘Pinhead Duffy’, ‘The Cut of Love’ and ‘The Clever One’. She writes from her home in Liscannor, Co. Clare and is currently working on her fourth novel.
* Describe a typical day in your life.
Rush the kids out to school. Make coffee. Open laptop and sit down to get a head start writing, then do everything except write – feed the animals on Farmville – chat to pals on facebook – clean the cooker. Finally settle down to some writing and am just hitting my stride when the kids are back from school!
* How would you describe your writing style?
Pared back, minimalist, modern, contemporary, hopefully relevant!
* Tell us about your favourite piece of writing at the moment (yours or someone elses).
Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Claire Kilroy’s Tenderwire – two unforgettable novels that I’m dead jealous of. And Claire Kilroy is not only a terrific writer she’s also skinny young and pretty – not fair. Am loving working on my new novel – The Day you Left. So exciting to create a whole new world of characters and situations.
* When faced with the dreaded ‘Blank Page’ how do you get started?
I just write any old thing. Writers block is only for people with no bills and no kids at college.
* I am in awe of anyone who can write an entire novel themself, the task seems mammoth. What tips could you give someone who wants to start writing their own novel?
Think of something that you’d love to write about – something that keeps buzzing round in your head and just won’t go away and then write from the heart. Forget about style, trends, markets. Believe in your characters and they’ll do the talking all by themselves.
* What’s the most important piece of advice you would give any young or beginning writer?
Write write write write write. And read as much as you can.
* Where do you find inspiration?
All around me. Snippets of conversations in Penney’s , at rugby matches in the steam room. Faces I see on the street, children and their wonderful innocence and wisdom all rolled together.
* Describe your workspace.
Kitchen table, half cleaned by one of the kids. Incredible view – rolling fields and then the Atlantic – I am so lucky.
* Who would play you in the film of your life?
Penelope Cruz and Almodavar to direct!
* What is the most important lesson your Art form has taught you?
That I have to keep raising the bar. Every book demands more and more.
* Which living artist/writer do you most admire and why?
Eminem – terrific poet and he actually makes a ton of money out of it.
* How do you relax?
Swim, run, walk the dog. Glass of wine watching the footie or the rugby.
* What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Still being a Liverpool fan after a string of lousy seasons….
~Pretty interesting or interestingly pretty? Both of course.
~Blur or Oasis? Oasis all the way.
~Boxers or Y-fronts? Boxers, preferably on a member of the Italian football team.
~Fiction or Non-fiction? Fiction
~Blondes or Brunettes? (or redheads?!) Brunettes. Blondes are cheap and redheads are like dodos, on the way to extinction.
~Clooney or Depp? Tough one. Clooney. No Depp. No Clooney. No Depp. A draw.
~Classic or Modern? Modern.
~Custard or ice-cream? Ice cream
~World Cup or Wimbledon? World cup but love tennis.
~What’s your favourite colour? Blue.
~What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Glee – absolutely addicted.
~When are you happiest? Writing.
~Tell us a secret…I tried to write a rap song last week and failed miserably – very complicated form!