An interview with Grace Coleman

Grace Coleman
Walking Barefoot  -  2017

Ms. Coleman,

Thank you for taking your time for me.

Who are your influences?

Walking Barefoot is heavily influenced by 1984 and Brave New World. I’m not saying that it’s as bleak as either; but I’m interested in what Orwell and Huxley would think are our barriers to happiness in 2017 – would they think we’re being suppressed by an all-powerful elite or do we build cages of our own making in the lives we choose to live? There’s a hint of Stephen King’s Gunslinger about the protagonist, Will Balston: he’s not half as hardcore, but imagine if Roland had spent an eternity paper-pushing instead of gun-slinging and maybe you’re there.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. A cheesy answer but true! I remember a family reunion in Durban, I must’ve been about 7, my second and third cousins were tearing round the house and garden; but I had crawled under the dining room table, pen and paper in hand, emerging hours later to proudly read my poem to my mum. My early teens saw a productive, Douglas Adams’ inspired period which I shared with pen pals over the internet (back in the days when it was acceptable to meet strangers in Yahoo! Chatrooms) and post-University I felt compelled to write down a ‘fictional’ take on a first year at Durham, pre-In Betweeners, it took a frank look at early sexual experiences and friendship. Writing has never been a problem – finishing and editing, now there’s the rub!

How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc.?

William Balston arrived fully formed on my doorstep. I was in a basement in Byron Bay au pairing, having spent time in Thailand, and he came jostling in, demanding attention. The thing about Will is he’s got some really great qualities, but he’s just so damn unhappy! Could I save him? At first I thought he was a Freudian mix of my ex-boyfriend and my father, but once I was immersed in the story I realised he was me all along. I think at this stage of my career all my protagonists, although very different, are exploring traits within myself. When I write Character definitely comes first, the world and the story just sort of fall into place after.

If you could actually meet one of your characters, who would it be?  Why?

A blast from the unpublished past! When I was fifteen I started writing a book called Norman. Norman was duller than dull, he lived in the back end of nowhere and had a meagre middle-aged existence until one day he bought a computer, before he knows it (and remember kids this is pre you-tube sensation days) he is plunged into internet super stardom. Poor Norman never got finished though. I’d like to meet him to say sorry that I got distracted by drinking and boys and University, and also to see if his voice is as I imagined. Maybe he can let me know how he got on.

Do you work from an outline?

Not yet. I really really need to start plotting my books before I start. My first draft of Walking Barefoot (which, completed over three years ago, looked significantly different to the published version) was over double the length at 120,000 – so much of it was drivel! The problem with not plotting is you don’t know where it’s going so you just write and write. I’d be sitting with Will having a morning coffee, thinking, ‘OK mate, I don’t need to see you put on your tie for the hundredth time – what are you actually doing today?’

Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel(s).

My favourite scene came out of a writing exercise. I did the online Curtis Brown novel writing course a few years ago (which helped me summon the courage to slash the 70,000 words mentioned above), and the tutor asked us to write a scene imagining our character had discovered a dead body. I think a lot of people went down the crime/detective route. I thought about Will – where he’d find a dead body and what he’d do. Well, he just walked straight out of the scene! Was having none of it. Barely flinched! I liked the scene so much (the dark and dingy bar, the man turned body, Will's stubbornness even when confronted with the most dramatic of scenes) I put it in the book.

Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?

Writing isn't something I've chosen to do, it's something I have to do to not be miserable. It reminds me of the scene in Sister Act 2 when she quotes Rainer Maria Rilke – if when you wake up in the morning you can think of nothing but writing, then you're a writer. Don't get me wrong, days, weeks, months, go by when I don't put pen to paper or fingers to keys (life has a nasty habit of getting in the way); but there's always that niggle in the back of my mind, a story or character itching to get out, that makes me know, however unrewarding or hopeless, I will spend my life writing.

Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?

Walking Barefoot is actually my first foray into Dystopian fiction. I've written chick-lit, fairy stories and coming of age Young adult fiction in the past. My novel-in-progress is an adult Alice in Wonderland-esque exploration into identity and abuse (which I'm really dreading summarising in a book catalogue). I write lots of genres, but the things that bind them are themes and the focus on character. I'd like to write a detective novel next, something that forces me to put plot first and takes me out of my comfort zone.

Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?

Writing is a solitary, procrastination-filled process for me so is never a barrel of laughs to any unfortunate onlooker. I guess I find it strange how many mediums it now takes on; a scribbled line on the back of a receipt, a story idea typed into my phone, a stolen ten-minutes on my One Drive at work (*looks over shoulder nervously*). So one anecdote doesn't really stand out - it's just a slow plod, word by word, that runs alongside the everyday.

Do you listen to music as you write?

I've tried experimenting with Classical music but generally I prefer silence when writing. I feel like Master Shifu in Kung fu Panda when I try to write – struggling for inner peace, whilst my ears are twitching, straining for the quietest, most distant dog bark to get annoyed at. Music can invoke emotion, which can be a good thing for initial inspiration, but I'd be worried that it would seep into the writing and affect the mood.

As a parting line I just want to say thank you for reading! For so long I've been writing but too scared to share it with the world. And a Writer without a Reader is like.... well, lots of things are more fun with two people. I'm really excited to finally be letting Walking Barefoot loose into the world – and hopefully you'll come along for a little of the ride.

Grace, on the behalf of my reader's I thank you for your time

✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒

Connect with Grace  ~

Walking Barefoot

April 25, 2017

 Set in a futuristic London in a world ravaged by war, Walking Barefoot explores the life of Will, past and present.  The cocksure eighteen year old who goes travelling in a bid to find himself.  The city-living adult who struggles to be happy despite his well paid job, upper quadrant apartment and sexy girlfriend.  When nightmares begin to haunt his sleeping and waking life, Will is unsure whether he is suffering from the illness that killed his father or being led by unseen forces to uncover a city-wide conspiracy.  As his paranoia heightens he must ask himself - is he willing to lose himself to find the truth?


UK    Amazon  ~  kobo

USA   Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒

No comments:

Post a Comment