My Writer of the Week is Hilary Spiers whose short story The Brightest Star is in our latest issue.
Your story is about Marion and her grandson Ryan, and the gulf between them. You write his anger and hurt very well. Can you say how the idea came to you and why it was one you wanted to explore?
At a time when the real world is so grim, I wanted to write a redemptive story and one that portrays the importance of grandparents in so many children’s lives. Ryan is desperately missing his father, Marion is desperately missing her husband and knows that if he were still alive, he would have found a way to comfort and help the little boy. She draws strength and inspiration from her late husband: although no longer with her, he gives her the key to unlock Ryan’s damaged heart.
It’s also about telescopes and star-gazing. Are you a secret astronomer or did you Google it?
OK, confession time. I did Google it initially, although the Dog Star memory came to me immediately from somewhere. Then I wasted hours reading more and more about the night sky! Absolutely fascinating.
This is very different in tone from your two Hester & Harriet novels. Do you think the two formats invite different styles?
Very much so. Short stories – my default mode – allow one to dip into lives for a brief moment. Novels are long hauls and demand months of commitment – but are just as enjoyable to write.
Can we look forward to more about Hester & Harriet? Is there a third novel in the works?
There is a third novel in the pipeline – not about Hester and Harriet (although I hope to return to them in the future as so many readers are asking me to and I already have two further novel outlines for the indefatigable sisters). This new one is – as ever – about mature protagonists, a husband and wife, who get caught up in a very alarming conspiracy. Recently, I have also been concentrating on my playwriting.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
Oh, keyboard, I’m afraid, in my study with a view over the garden but notebook in my handbag every day for those intriguing conversations one overhears in cafés, on trains, or people on their mobile phones! Aren’t some people indiscreet?!
And a PS: What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Easy to say: write every day to keep the writing muscle supple. A page, a sentence, a word. Sometimes harder to do!
Hilary’s books include:
Hester and Harriet (Allen & Unwin) and Hester & Harriet: Love, Lies & Linguine (Allen & Unwin); both books are available as audiobooks
The Hour Glass (short story anthology) (Pewter Rose Press)
For details of her plays, visit her website: www.hilaryspiers.co.uk