Up second in our series of Viva La Novella 2 shortlister profiles is up-and-coming author, Claire Varley. Hey Claire!
What do you do in your day job/life?
I work in community development and am finishing off my Master’s thesis. I’ve a quote in one of my notebooks that I’ve attributed to Pablo Neruda about the purpose of life being to ‘sail along bringing happiness’. I’d like to think that’s what I do, or at least what I endeavour to do, or at least what all the kind people in my life let me believe I do.
What’s the earliest thing you remember writing?
I wrote a picture book in Grade 3 called ‘Aladdin and his Genie and the Lamp’ which essentially retells the Disney movie Aladdin but without any of the interesting bits. This was the start of a period of mass book production where I plagiarised a whole raft of other stories, deeming it necessary to spend a handful of pages introducing the main characters, a mere sentence summarising the actual plot, then ending it abruptly so I could start the next one.
When do you like to write?
I try to enforce set writing time if working to a deadline but usually I just follow the whims and fancies of my mind. If some writers are like parents who practise controlled crying, shaping their writing to schedules and daily word counts, I’m more like the sleep deprived earth mother who lets the writing decide when it wants to be written even if this means getting up at 2am. I also spend a lot of time lying on the floor procrastinating or writing in cafes, hoarding bits of conversation, ideas and quotes like a magpie, then at some point seeing what fits together. I have a notepad and pen by my bed to grope blindly in the dark for but recently in these summer months I’ve taken to just scrawling ideas onto a limb then rediscovering them the next morning in the shower. Reading back over this I realise I’ve made myself sound like a slightly eccentric kook – the type Emma Thompson would win a BAFTA playing – but really I’m not. I’m more like one of those documentaries about slightly askew people who collect lint.
If you could brunch with anyone, who would it be?
Emma Thompson? I would say someone like Dave Eggers or David Sedaris or Arundhati Roy but it would be a really awkward brunch because I’d just sit there unable to talk or eat or do anything but stare and maybe emit a few awe struck whimpers. Such a waste of hollandaise...
Most important thing the Internet has taught you:
The internet helps me avoid the constant malapropism I would otherwise commit. And I 100% just used the internet to double check that malapropism was the word I meant.
A quotation you have used more than once:
I’m not amazing with verbatim quotations (see aforementioned perpetual malapropism), but I have a David Foster Wallace quote across the top of my laptop background; that good writing should help readers become less alone inside.
I’m starting to cobble together the next mess of ideas for what will possibly be a novella about privatisation, prejudice and the rise of conscientious political apathy, but I might also write about zombies.
For more Claire Varley in your life, visit: clairevarley.wordpress.com