Saturday, June 14, 2014

Author Interview with Niamh Boyce

Niamh Boyce kindly agreed to take part in the #mywritingprocess meme when I tagged her and this wonderful insight into her writing world is the result. Thank you Niamh.

Picture courtesy of The Irish Examiner

What are you currently working on? Is it historical fiction?

I’m terribly superstitious with regards talking about a novel before it’s finished! I’ve done it before - chatted about a work in progress - and it seemed to disperse the energy I needed for the book, and the whole thing went flat on me. Though it’s really hard for me NOT to tell you, (I love talking about my work) I’ll have to stay silent and keep it secret till the novel is complete. But, it is historical...

What is it about your work and your writing process that differs from others? (what works for you?)
Probably the above! I like to work on the early drafts of a novel alone, without any feedback from anyone else. I need to convince myself of the world of my book, so I’m my only reader. Obviously there comes a stage where I feel it’s done, and I will submit to publishers and probably do nothing else but talk about it. On the other hand, I enjoy getting feedback on poetry. For some reason I feel differently about my novels and short stories. Also, I write that first draft in longhand. I love notebooks, and I enjoy the physically action of the pen on the page.

Why do you write what you do? and why do you write?
I don’t know. I try not to over think why I write what I do. I write what comes, what fascinates me ... hidden lives, folktales, superstitions, secrets, myths, power, revenge, murder, sex, death, art... I like the territory covered by writers like Emma Donahue, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Pat Mc Cabe and John Connolly. As for why I write – it’s a compulsion. I have a love of language, but it’s more than that, when I try to pinpoint the truth of something or other that bothers me, I always fall back on writing about it – I guess it’s how I make sense of the world.

What is a typical writing day?
Though I’d really love the luxury of being able to write full time, I don’t actually have a writing day - I teach writing workshops, and have a job, and children - so I grab a few hours most weekday mornings, at around 5.30 am before anyone else gets up, and do my writing then. It’s a nice time, the house is quiet and there’s something special about the light, but it means I get tired (ie cross as a bag of cats) very early in the evening, and often go to bed before my kids do!

Any advice you would offer to aspiring authors?
Don’t give up, keep writing, and keep enjoying it.
Set your own goals and deadlines – short term and long term.
Don’t compare your writing journey to anyone else’s.
Write what you love, and don’t be afraid to go wild in your writing.
Don’t decide on one form and stick to it, try lots of different forms - plays, monologues, poems, slam poetry, novellas, novels, radio stories, flash fiction, haikus, rants... or a mixture of all the above.
Your writing is yours. Never let anyone take the pleasure out of creating from you.
Don’t talk about writing. Don’t read about writing. Write.

Your favourite authors/books?
I love Cormack Mc McCarthy’s The Road, Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, Marion Keyes’s Watermelon, Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, Emma Donahue’s Astray, Sarah Water’s Affinity, Carol Ann Duffy’s Rapture, Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber... I also like Jeannette Winterson, Alice Munroe, Emily Bronte, Milan Kundera, and The Grimm Brothers. And biographies and autobiographies of artists, writers and actors- especially actors from the early days of Hollywood - Bette Davis, Mae West, and Louise Brooks are my favourites.

In case you didn't know Niamh Boyce is a Irish writer, winner of The Novel Fair in 2012 and a winner of the Hennessy XO New Irish Writer of the Year Award. Niamh's debut novel The Herbalist is available in paperback from Penguin Ireland and I reviewed it here


  1. Fabulous! thanks Lisa for interviewing such a kick-ass writer as Niamh.

  2. LOVED Niamh's The Herbalist and am totally salivating for her next one!!!! Ooooh can't wait! Hurry up, Niamh! LOL! But seriously - what a most inspiring interview - makes me want to get off out of my lazy arse and write!!! Yay! Take care

  3. Thanks for interviewing me Lisa, and thanks too Jan and Old Kitty - not a lazy arse in sight!:)

  4. Thanks for the comments guys