Meeting Mandy Robothom – Hysteria 2015 Judge
Mandy loves the short story form, and how much life, drama and feeling writers can pack in to so few words. She is currently finishing an MA in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University, while working as a full-time midwife, and completing her first published novel.
What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?
Few people know that I knit placentas.
How did you choose a title for your book?
The title of my (as yet unpublished) book, ‘The Baby Giver’, came to me out of the blue. I often start with just the title, popping into my head as I knit or read newspaper nibs.
I come across a lot of titles on trains ! For months I had a title: The Life & Times of Kitty Winkhorn, which eventually became a person and a story. I like wordplay, and alliteration in titles.
Do you think there is any elitism attached to the different genres of books, both in the fiction and non-fiction worlds?
I do think there is huge elitism between genres, particularly with so-called ‘chic lit’ and popular crime. I am lucky enough to be friends with a very successful romantic fiction author, who is very aware of her audience, and has no graces about her work being high literature, but she is a master plotter, and if we are honest, has done what we all strive to do: have our work read by a wide and loyal audience. Whatever the genre, I think the best benchmark is whether someone looks forward to tucking up in bed and reading your book until their eyes can’t stay open.
What is the book that you wished you had written?
I wish I had written ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan – the climax evokes such sadness I can’t read to the end anymore. To create such emotion and reality in characters would be a joy.
Tea, Coffee, Water, Juice, Wine or Beer … which do you prefer when writing?
My writing Tipple is coffee: I can write reams in a busy coffee shop with a good flat white by my side, just watching the foam pop often brings ideas. I’m lucky in that I like ambient noise. I write well on trains, but the coffee is generally awful !