What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing a big family saga, which is set partly in Finland, where I grew up, and partly in London. It’s a nostalgic experience, drawing inspiration from memories of my hometown and life in the 1990s. Translating that beautiful setting – the near-constant daylight of the Finnish midsummer, the traditional wooden houses, the wide blue lakes – onto the page is a challenge that I’m really relishing.
What are your writing aspirations?
My goal is to become a published writer. I’ve completed a YA coming-of-age novel, set in the UK, about a teenage girl who strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly lady and they help each other address the challenges they’re facing in their lives. My beta readers gave me really positive feedback on it, especially on having got the language and the mindset of the teenage character off to a tee. I’m currently waiting to hear back from a couple of agents I’ve sent the draft to.
What do you love about working at the Writers’ Cafe?
I really enjoy teaching our creative writing course. It’s fantastic seeing our students’ writing growing stronger, and watching their stories begin to take shape throughout the course. The best feeling is when they’re encouraged to try out new approaches in class, which develop their writing skills in ways that then enable them to take their writing to a whole new level.
What’s your best piece of writing advice?
Always remember that each of your characters needs to be working to their own ‘script’. They will each see every situation from their own perspective, and they will need to react accordingly. It’s very easy to make a character do the thing that the plot requires them to – but remember that this is only realistic if that character has a genuine motivation for that action that’s built into their internal script.
Which authors do you admire?
I love the novels of Scarlett Thomas, especially The End of Mr Y for its outlandish plot and Our Tragic Universe for its atmosphere. Zadie Smith creates amazing characters that really come alive for the reader. Audrey Niffenegger is another author I never tire of re-reading, Her Fearful Symmetry is one of my favourite books ever.