Which writers or poets inspire you and why?
Where do I start? I’m inspired by people who write compassionately about the characters in their books. Rachel Joyce does this particularly well in The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennesey, and Anne Tyler has a gift for taking very ordinary people, and making the reader understand what makes them tick. Emma Healey inspired me with her book Elizabeth is Missing. Maud, her long-suffering daughter Helen, and her lively grand-daughter Katy were real and the writer made it so easy for me to empathise with them.
I’m also inspired by writers who bring creativity to their use of the language. Margaret Atwood is a favourite, and I loved The Blind Assassin; David Mitchell’s another with Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks.
Inspiration also comes from writers who can take me into the landscape, because when I stop reading I feel I’ve been there. M.L. Stedman did this with The Light Between Oceans, and Ann Patchett with State of Wonder.
Where and when do you do most of your reading?
Have you ever been so engrossed in a book on the bus, you almost miss your stop? Or in bed, and you look up and say, ‘That can’t be the time. Can it?’ Coffee and lunch breaks are good for reading, too, especially if you’re retired, and your husband is playing golf. Bus, bed, breaks – they’re when I read most often.
Do you have a favourite writing or reading resource to recommend?
A book I keep turning back to is The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, edited by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and the editors of Writer’s Digest. It’s full of very good advice from many well-known and experienced writers.
How to Write and Sell Short Stories, by Della Galton, is full of advice and ideas, and particularly useful for anyone who would like to sell stories to the women’s magazine market. Della Galton has had over 1,500 stories published, so she knows what she’s talking about.
What advice would you give your younger writing self?
Work with a list of goals – long, medium and short-term goals. And remember – you don’t fail. If things don’t go according to hopes and dreams, then you have a different out-come. Learn from the experience and move on.
What emotion do you associate with good writing?
Is flying lark-high an emotion? I think so.
Who would you invite to a literary dinner party?
Let’s make the rules include anyone alive or dead. Here goes… Oscar Wilde, he’s so witty; Charlotte Brontë, because I love Jane Eyre; Rupert Brooke, who has so much to say to me; Maeve Binchy, she’s so kind; and Jesus Christ, because he was a master-storyteller. You can come, too, dear reader, and bring a friend.
You can also meet Veronica on her website here: www.veronicabright.co.uk