Dear fellow Babblers,
I recently interviewed debut author, Auriel Roe about her book, A Blindfellows Chronicle, about her life as a writer, the thoughts, feelings and processes behind her debut novel. My discussion with Roe has been empowering for myself and I hope the same can be said for anyone out there – writers, artists, athletes whose grasp is torn between logic and passion.
1. You are an “accidental” writer. I would never have guessed such a thing from reading A Blindefellows Chronicle. You must have had some pretty great influences that inspired your writing. Any authors you can think of?
I’m mainly interested in classics as I get disappointed so often in reading a lot of today’s fiction. Some favourites are Dickens, Wilkie Collins, PG Wodehouse. As I do a lot of art, I tend to have a story on from BBC Drama as I do this so I’m a bit of a reading cheat!
2. Did you like reading as a child, or is it something that weaved its way into your life with time?
I wasn’t much of a reader, to be honest. I was a very run about active child, not a curl up with a book sort of creature. I did like making up plays as a child and, before teaching art I was head of a drama department so always liked engaging dialogue which I hope I have in my book.
3. A Blindefellows Chronicle is unlike any book that I’ve read before, and I read A LOT. I can’t think of it as a novel, but it’s not a collection of short stories either, of course. How would you describe this unique take you took on writing this first book of your career as an author?
I think the fact that I have eclectic tastes in classical literature makes the book have a unique feel. I don’t follow any current trends. I sort of wrote the book I wanted to read but couldn’t find.
4. What is the hardest part of writing for you? Is it the time it takes, the inevitable risks involved; perhaps the unlimited wanderings of the imagination…?
The novel is quite a daunting beast as it’s so long and has to be coherent which is perhaps why I opted for this format of each chapter being a short story/episode able to stand alone but a thread running through all of the stories stitching them together, either tightly or loosely. I know a lot of people who have to have a “structural edit” as there are plot holes, but fortunately that wasn’t me!
5. I, as well as many of my readers, look at your book like a cookie. You eat one and just want MORE! What can we expect from you next? Or are you going to surprise us just like you did with this stellar title?
I am in the planning stages of my next book and will be starting to write very soon. I’m being a little braver with this one as it’s a “proper novel” with one set of characters right the way through. I’m planning it really carefully to avoid the aforementioned plot holes. Blindefellows was set in a private school, this next one is taking place in an international school. (I’ve worked in both kinds.) It’s another comedy with a few poignant peaks, like Blindefellows.
6. What are your thoughts on the publishing industry and social media’s growing role in promoting the marketing of book and new authors?
I feel a bit sad about the amount of time I’m expected to spend on social media when I’d rather be writing or doing something artistic. I think twitter is less like birdsong and more like gridlock! I actually have a full time job too – I run a school art department – so social media is on a back burner which isn’t so good for my book, I suppose. I think it’s a shame that there is less of going out there and meeting authors in person and listening to them read their book. I’m thinking of having a youtube channel in which exactly that happens.
7. How is a typical “writing” day for you? Is it filled with endless hours sitting by the window and dreaming up your next best villain? Is it nonstop pounding of letters on the keyboard?
I don’t have endless hours atm but planning on changing this as I see I can write a good book. I like to plan in a notebook first for about a week per chapter. Then I may need to read up on certain things. Only when it’s all planned in long hand will I start typing.
8. For you, what makes what we bibliophiles call, “a masterpiece” ? Every sentence is important to the story and every sentence is beautifully written.
It seems to me that you initially forwent your dreams of becoming a writer only to return to them now. What caused this change in your life?
I think I quite suddenly felt now I would be a better writer than then and it is true. I still have a couple of things I wrote and am so glad I didn’t pursue publication with them – I would be embarrassed now!
9. Do you have any advice for our young writers out there dreaming to be the next great Rowling and Dickens?
Don’t feel you must follow trends – strive for originality. Don’t write with dreams of money, write because you feel you have something important to say. Only write if you are invigorated by the experience, otherwise it’ll be a hell on earth (do you enjoy long stretches on your own, for instance?).