All Interviews

INTERVIEW ‘The World is Funny’: An Interview with Kevin Boniface

by WJ Davies

Perhaps the reason my stories are often only brief glimpses of my characters’ lives is because this is my reality as a postal worker. I’m constantly on the move so my surroundings are always in flux. Sometimes I’ll witness the beginning of would could be a fascinating story, but I’ll never see the ending. Sometimes a customer will let me into their lives: we’ll just be passing the time on the doorstep, there’ll be a bit of a connection, they’ll confide in me and I’ll never see them again. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW Achievable Miracles: An Interview with Paul Murray

by Tadhg Hoey

Reading Murray’s latest, The Bee Sting, put me in mind of Tolstoy’s line about how all happy families are alike, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. It follows Dickie and Imelda Barnes, who are bound together by a tragic death that changed the course of their lives two decades ago, as they struggle to keep their family together. To make matters worse, their two kids, Cass and PJ, are hatching plans to leave home, and Dickie’s car dealership is on the brink of collapse. The Bee Sting is a novel about family, secrets, love, and the lengths to which we’ll go, for better or worse, to protect the ones we love from the truth. It is, above all, a novel about the past and our inability to ever outrun it. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW 'The Writing Itself Decides': An Interview with Vanessa Onwuemezi

by Ali Maeve Sargent

Vanessa Onwuemezi won the 2019 White Review Short Story Prize for her short story, ‘At the Heart of Things’. Her debut collection, Dark Neighbourhood, takes us through the liminal spaces of systems of power, such as borders, hotels or offices in the early hours. The world of this collection warps desires and voices; its themes are alienation, spirituality, family ties, loss. Onwuemezi’s characters are distant from themselves, but rendered fleetingly intimate to the reader through sound, rhythm and image. We talked about poetry and editing, the void, witchcraft and perception. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW 'Please Just Let Something Happen': An Interview with Rebecca Watson

by Elsa Court

Rebecca Watson joined the ranks of promising young talents to have been showcased in the White Review Short Story Prize when she was shortlisted for the award in 2018, and has gone on to publish a remarkable debut. Published earlier this year, little scratch is a crisp, incisive and formally original novel about a day in the life of a young woman working in a newspaper office in London. She and I shared a windy outdoor coffee in East London, where she lives. We discussed Rebecca’s early influences, her second novel in the works, and how working from home also transforms the writer’s routine. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW My Camera is My Notebook: An Interview with Harriet Mercer

by Jess Payn

Mercer's book, Gargoyles, is a memoir of the nightmarish side of sudden, life-threatening illness. Describing her convalescence at Charing Cross Hospital, Mercer follows ‘the thing that slips and slides through the fingers of your mind when you try to pin it down with words.’ Straying to the dark, wounded places of her life, the book is a tale of loss, change and endurance, but joy, too. Mercer celebrates the kindness of family, friends and strangers, and the beauty of the surrounding green-hued world. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW Millennial Intellectual: An Interview with James Marriott

by Nicholas Harris

At just 28 years old, James Marriott has already established himself as essential reviewer and columnist. Deputy literary editor at The Times for three and a half years now, he has risen to prominence for the intelligence of his criticism and his emotional candour about millennial life. I spoke to him about contemporary fiction, his preference for sincerity in literature and what it’s like to write for a Boomer audience as ‘The Times’s Favourite Millennial’. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW 'The Oppressive Weight of the British novel': An Interview with Yara Rodrigues-Fowler

by Stephanie Sy-Quia

'It’s not just about making people relive shit when they read; it’s also about showing on the page that these events and these violences don’t come out of nowhere, and they have far-reaching consequences. I wanted to put all of that experience on the page. I wanted that to be what people are reading: all the silliness and the complexity and the childishness of the protagonist as she heals, when she’s trying to be in her body again, and be sexual again, and the pain of it. I wanted to talk about all of the things that aren’t just the original violent incidents themselves.' [read full interview]

INTERVIEW ‘I Love to Talk About Minutiae’: An Interview with Julia Armfield

by Louis Harnett O’Meara

At 28, Julia Armfield is being hailed by many as one of the UK’s pre-eminent new literary voices. Longlisted for the Deborah Rogers literary award in 2018 and presented with the White Review short story prize soon after, her tales are both macabre and humane. Balancing a tone of cool detachment and gentle empathy, Armfield lays out an aesthetics inherited from the likes of Angela Carters 1970s fairytales, Kafka’s Metamorphosis and the annals of the horror genre; and while her tales demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the genre’s tropes and motifs, these elements are imbued with an empathic literary sensibility that pushes the potential of the form forward. The fantastic – sleepless phantoms, golems and werewolves – is used as a means of examining the complexities of the modern female’s relationships with others and the corporal. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW 'Cliché Gives People Something to Hang On To': An Interview with Lindsey Hilsum

by Stephanie Sy-Quia

What I think at the moment is that the journalists who are having an impact and who are most in danger at the moment are investigative journalists who are looking at the network of corrupt politicians and organised crime. This is where we see three journalists killed in the European Union in the last year. That is the place to look at at the moment for the impact of journalists because they can bring down politicians, as they should be able to, by examining corruption. Exposing corruption is one of the most basic and most important functions of journalism, and I think it has much more potential for doing that than bringing peace. Bringing peace is a very vague concept. Information is very important in that, but journalists bringing peace? I think that’s nonsense. [read full interview]

INTERVIEW 'I Think of Metaphor as a Gesture of Empathy': An Interview with Terrance Hayes

by Stephanie Sy-Quia

Terrance Hayes likes to describe his background as ‘very American’. His mother, who works as a prison guard, had him when she was 16. He grew up in South Carolina, before attending Coker College on a basketball scholarship. It was there that he started writing poems. In 2014 he was awarded a McArthur Fellowship and in 2018 he was shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize. I was able to meet Hayes when he was promoting his book American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, a keenly insistent sequence penned in the news-scream fever-dream which followed the 2016 American election. We chatted in the corridor of his hotel, while he ate a croissant. In this book’s examination of America and its many assassins, Hayes’s modus operandi is to be unrelenting in his ‘posing of poets’ questions to history’; we discuss some of them here. [read full interview]