Kit de Waal

How did you become a writer?

I became a writer late in life. I’m nearly 56 and until I was 40 I didn’t really give it a thought, not seriously. Then I had a child that was sick and lots of time at home on my hands and just had a go.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

There were no teachers who believed in me but my mother always told us we were beautiful and clever and could basically do anything we wanted. So when I did think of becoming a writer I didn’t really have any doubt that I could do it. I did have doubts about other people liking my writing but not that I could get down, learn the craft and get something published, however small.  Apart from that, my inspirations and encouragement have all come from other writers, specifically Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola, Arnold Bennett, Graham Green, Patrick Hamilton, John le Carré - all men which isn’t something I like to boast about it’s just true.

When and where do you write?

I write at home usually. I’m not one for coffee shops unless I’m writing about a coffee shop and go for authenticity’s sake. I write late, starting around 9 pm and working until 4 a.m. I’m wrecked the next day but that’s just too bad, the night is my best time, everything is quiet, people are asleep, the world doesn’t know you’re watching and is likely to let down its guard.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a collection of short stories. Still scoping it out, still thinking about characters and lives and secrets. Soon as I have a grip on someone, I’m going to wrest them on to the page.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

No. But I suffer doubts.

What’s your advice to new writers?

Value your life experience. Value what you have to say. Value your voice. Imitate other writers while you’re learning, deconstruct their books and learn from them. Then break out and be you. There’s no substitute for the authentic self.

Kit de Waal is published in various anthologies (Fish Prize 2011 & 2012; ‘The Sea in Birmingham’ 2013; ‘Final Chapters’ 2013’ and ‘A Midlands Odyssey 2015) and on Radio 4 Readings. She came second in the Costa Short Story Prize 2014 with ‘The Old Man & The Suit’, second in the Bath Short Story Prize 2014 with ‘The Beautiful Thing’ and second in the Bare Fiction Flash Fiction Prize.  She won the Readers’ Prize at the Leeds Literary Prize 2014, and the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction 2014 and again in 2015.  Her first novel ‘My Name is Leon’ will be published by Penguin in June 2016. She lives in Leamington Spa, England with her two children.