Our latest Writer Of The Week is Meg Hudson, whose story, “Winter Walkies”, is published in our bumper December 7 issue.
“Winter Walkies” is a magical little story. What prompted the idea? It would be lovely to hear that you’d encountered a tree just like this!
“Winter Walkies” was based on a real riverside walk in the snow.
My husband and I came across a little, growing fir tree that someone had hung one shiny bauble on. We gradually added more, and between ourselves and someone we never met, we kept it going, like a conversation.
The tree looked really festive by Christmas. I’d love to know who our phantom tree-dresser was.
Your story is Christmas themed, of course — did you write it in December, surrounded by Christmas music?
I made notes at the time — weather notes, winter sounds, spaniels — but I wrote the first draft in September, in a tent on the Scottish west coast near Mallaig.
Sunshine, white sand, turquoise sea. Not Christmassy at all.
Can you work on more than one story at a time?
I keep a few stories on the go at once.
Sometimes it’s one sentence, and I don’t know where it wants to go.
Some of my writing seems to happen while I’m asleep. I go to bed stuck, and wake up with the solution. I wish it happened more often.
You’ve been writing for the “Friend” for a lot of years now, haven’t you? Can you remember what your first story was for us, and when?
My first “Friend” story was published in June 2002. It was called “Stars In Her Eyes.”
Set in the late 1950s, it’s about a young girl who is starstruck when a glamorous Hollywood couple visit her Nan. Can it really be Lauren Bacall?
But it’s her long-lost Aunt Mags, a star in her own right.
She was inspired by my real (late) Aunt Mags, and I was stunned when I saw the illustration. My description must have been spot-on.
I wrote to Val Kerr, my editor then, to say how amazed I was at the likeness, and to my great joy she sent me the original painting.
Who are your own favourite authors, and what do you admire about them? Is there a writer you aspire to emulate?
Amongst my favourite authors are Ali Smith (funny, engaging, completely off-the-wall), Toni Morrison (soulful, truthful, makes my neck hairs prickle), Roddy Doyle (vivid, believable characters you might meet at the bus stop), and Penelope Fitzgerald (intriguing, unexpected stories, a dry wit that catches you off-guard). If I could write like her, I’d be a happy woman.
Well, a happier woman.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
My desk is in an alcove in the middle room of our little Victorian terrace, my plan to carve out a private writing room continually scuppered by long-term house guests.
It’s my excuse for not writing more.
And a P.S. — what’s your top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?
My tip for aspiring writers would be Motivation Follows Action.
Don’t wait to be inspired; just make a date with yourself and turn up, at your desk/armchair/cafe table, and write something.
You can stare for hours at a blank sheet, but if you write something, anything, it’s magical how another sentence follows on from the one before.
And I’ve added Meg’s own P.S., because it made me smile!
Thank you for inviting me, Shirley. I’ve attached a photo; I hope it isn’t too silly. My son took his hat off and stuck it on my head for the picture.
Suits you, Meg!
For more from the Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.