I am pleased to be joined by author, Hannah Vincent today. Her novel, Alarm Girl was released by Myriad Editions in August 2014. Thank you for joining me, Hannah. Can you tell us about Alarm Girl and how the idea originated?
I was travelling in Africa when I came across a newspaper article about a woman who died on the eve of her young daughter’s birthday. The image of a mother preparing for her child’s birthday which she will never see caught my imagination.
It’s a rite-of-passage story, told partly from the point of view of a child who hasn’t been told enough about the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. To fill in the gaps she makes up her own version of the truth. Set in South Africa, the book’s location is a metaphor for the strange emotional world a child inhabits after the death of a parent.
What’s your writing process like? How much do you plan and do you edit as you go?
I make notes for scenes for a long time and when the time is right (and judging this is crucial, I think) I start ‘joining up the dots’, filling in the gaps in between these scenes. Edit as I go, yes. Writing is rewriting.
You’re also a playwright. How did this contribute toward writing the novel?
My experience of writing plays means I am confident writing dialogue. Also, I visualise scenes, with characters moving about and relating to one another physically.
In a play, the writer only reveals the tip of the iceberg – what characters say to one another and what they do on stage. In prose, the writer has the freedom to show the reader a lot more of the iceberg but writing plays taught me how to be economic and show only what is necessary to the drama.by
Hannah Vincent, whose debut novel, Alarm Girl was released by Myriad Editions in August last year tells us about her writing room.
I write in bed. I could justify this with the excuse that this way I am closer to the dream state and an unconscious mode in which words and feeling flow but the truth is, my bed is comfy, smells nice and my cat likes it when I write there. It is highly un-ergonomic: I lie with my neck crooked on cushions, typing straight onto an ancient laptop with Twiggy the Siamese pinning down one arm.
I once read that humans crave greenery because of our outdoor ancestry. The view from my bedroom window is bland and grey, which is useful in that it’s not a distraction but sometimes I move to the kitchen table to work. Ours is a topsy-turvy house with an upstairs kitchen that is slightly above the level of the garden, so when I look out of the windows I feel as if I am in the trees with the squabbling sparrows and busy blue-tits. Continue readingby