Meet Bridget Whelan – ‘Writer in Residence’ for Hysteria Writing Competition

Each member of the Hysteria Writing Competition have been interviewed. They are all writers themselves with a huge amount of experience between them. Bridget Whelan is our ‘Writer in Residence‘. This is the first time we’ve had this particular role and Bridget will provide advice for all entrants each month the competition is running. You can find her first ‘post’ here: Why a writing deadlines is a ‘very good thing‘.

Tell me one thing no-one knows about you.

This is not the place for dark, dangerous secrets so I’ll skip a few things and go back to being five years old in London, when our family of four lived in three rented rooms at the top of a Queen Anne house. Dad, it was me who left footprints in the flower bed on the flat roof and made you think a stranger had come across the chimneys. But it was my sister who broke the clock…

What do you enjoy reading the most and why?

I love character-driven fiction. I want to know what happens next, not out of curiosity which will fade within minutes, but because the writer has made me care about the people s/he has created. There’s nothing as interesting as people in real life or within the pages of a novel. As I also enjoy crime fiction, I am a great fan of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus and Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander.

If there was one book or piece of writing you wish you had written what would it be?

The work of two male Australian writers spring to mind – Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally , because I love his writing and this book was big enough and important enough to do justice to the subject plus his research was impeccable. (And wasn’t his title better than Spielberg’s?) However, I think I would have to go with The True History of The Ned Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. He gives us the 19th century Irish-Australian voice of an ill-educated, highly intelligent folk hero and makes us believe in its authenticity for 400 pages. If I could write like that I could do anything, write anything, but ask me this question next week and I will probably give a different answer.

What prompted you to volunteer as Writer in Residence in the Hysteria Writing Competition?

It’s an interesting opportunity to write for a new audience about subjects I love. In the past I have been Writer in Residence at a community centre serving the unemployed. I worked on two lottery-funded projects and I must admit I rather like the title.

If there was a film of your life who would play you and why?

Imelda Staunton in a red wig, partly because she’s about my height, my age, brought up in the same part of London, and comes from the same London Irish background – but mainly because she is one of the outstanding actors of her generation.

Where can we find out more about you?

I write a blog at for readers and writers. Just Google my name to find it, not because I am famous, but because Bridget Whelan is a pretty old-fashioned name – it’s usually either me or someone who died in 1865.

My first novel was published in 2008.  A Good Confession is set in the early 1960s and revolves around the relationship between a Catholic priest and a young widow.

I’ve recently brought out a creative writing ebook Back to Creative Writing School that’s proved very popular.

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