Lucy from the Fiction team is here with another Writer Of The Week. This week, she chats with Irene Lebeter.
Welcome, Irene, and congratulations on being our Writer Of The Week! What inspired your short story, “A Welcome Visitor”?
In 1969, I sat at the bedside of my husband following a car crash and I wrote down some of my emotions.
For “A Welcome Visitor”, I transferred some of my feelings at that time to my main character, Janet.
Instead of a husband and wife scenario, I made it a mother and son. I introduced the young boy, Timothy, to lighten the story for your readers.
Have you always written?
I can scarcely remember a time when growing up that I didn’t have either a pen or a pencil in my hand.
My older sister and I used to write plays, and our relatives were very patient and stifled their yawns when we acted them out.
I didn’t write so much during my career as a secretary, but took up the hobby again on retiral.
I did send a couple of short stories to “The People’s Friend” around 2005 and 2006 without success, and didn’t try again until “Think Twice” at the end of 2018.
Do you find it easier to write at certain times of day, or in certain seasons?
I don’t have any seasonal preferences for writing, but am more inclined to write during the day than at night when I’m tired.
I usually write at some point every day — it becomes obsessive and hard not to write.
Which authors do you find inspiring as a writer?
There is a varied selection of authors whose work I enjoy and find inspiring.
A book I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed was “The Child” by Fiona Barton. I admired the author’s style of writing.
I’m also keen on the classics by Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, the Brontë sisters and Charles Dickens.
Have you experienced any difficulties as a writer? If yes, how have you overcome them?
At the start of my writing journey I tended to be over-descriptive, have much too formal dialogue, and found it hard to come up with a satisfying ending to my stories. Especially short stories.
Attending two writers’ groups, Strathkelvin Writers and Kelvingrove Writers, helped me overcome these difficulties.
I am still a member of these two groups, and have been inspired by my attendance there.
Is there anything you would never write about, or anything you plan on including in future stories?
I don’t think I would ever be interested in writing science fiction, and I don’t enjoy reading that genre either.
Nor would I include lots of swear words in my books or short stories. Even if the characters are the sort of people who would use swear words, I wouldn’t be comfortable in actually writing them.
I plan in my latest novel to use both first and third person — I have previously written novels in third person only, but I am enjoying the challenge of using both. I hope my readers will like it also.
Notebook and pencil, or laptop? Kitchen table, or study? Blank wall, or inspiring view?
Mainly I type directly on to my laptop, although I do occasionally jot down some ideas in a notebook if I don’t have the laptop to hand.
I work in my spare bedroom. When I first starting writing I had a bedroom with a desk and now, seventeen years on, it has turned into an office with a bed!
I find using photographs when writing a worthwhile exercise.
And a P.S. – what’s your top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?
My tip would be not to give up when you receive rejections. Keep on beavering away at improving your writing skills.
Joining a writing group is a wonderful way to meet like-minded people and to learn from your more experienced colleagues.
Irene’s first “Friend” short story, “Think Twice”, appears in our 150th Fiction Special, out now.
For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.
You can read an interview with one of Irene’s favourite authors, Lesley Pearse, by clicking here.