Eve Sinclair, the author of the recently released Jane Eyre Laid Bare, fell in love with the novels of Emily Brontë at an early age and later went on to study English literature. She has worked as a copy writer, journalist and editor and now divides her time between tending her English garden and travelling.
QDescribe your favourite writing space.For me, the messier and more disorganised my writing space, the easier it is to concentrate. If my desk is clear and I have all my pens organised, I can’t write a word. I used to be able to write in cafes, but now I can’t concentrate if there’s music. I like to look out of the window and see the world going by.
QDo you have a writing schedule?I have a family, so I write when the kids are out at school. Writing is about discipline. You have to make yourself sit in the chair and then, eventually, the writing will happen — in my case, usually just before I’m about to leave on the school run.
QEver struggled with writer’s block?When I teach creative writing, writer’s block tends to get mentioned a lot. In my experience, writer’s block is usually just fear. If you are telling yourself you’re not good enough, or the idea is terrible, then you won’t be able to type a word. The most important thing to remember is that you’re free to write the worst junk in the world. If you let yourself off the hook, then the words come. That said, being a writer is hard and staring at a blank screen can be overpowering. Every writer has to overcome that.
QWhat inspires you to write? Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?I love telling stories and I love reading, so the two for me go hand in hand. I always start by picturing the book I would most like to read myself and then set about writing it. There are some writers who do give some great writing tips and I’m always on the lookout for those.
QCoffee/tea/cigarettes — numbers please — while you are writing?Tea, tea and more tea. I get jittery after more than two coffees, but I always have a cuppa on the go. My husband is a writer too, and we both work at home, so we meet for regular tea breaks. I gave up smoking a long time ago and I’m quite an addictive personality, so I know that even if I have a puff, I’d be back on 20 a day. The real addiction for a writer, though, is social media. I have to force myself not to log in to Twitter or Facebook. Of all the distractions, those are by far the worst.
QWhich books are you reading at present?I’m reading The Song of Achillies by Madeline Miller, which is a novelised version of the story of Achillies, Patroclus and the siege of Troy. It’s so exciting and a total page-turner. I’m fascinated by reinterpretations of well-known stories, which is why I wrote Jane Eyre Laid Bare. I’ve also got Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga next to my bed. I really enjoyed his book, The White Tiger. I’m a junkie for novels set in locations I’ve never been to and as someone who loves India, this book is going to tick my boxes, I think.
QWho are your favourite authors?I have many. I like the English classics, obviously, and female writers have always been inspirational for me. George Elliot’s Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda have a special place for me, as does Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. For edge-of-your-sea emotional suspense, I always turn to Daphne du Maurier.
QWhich book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste?Everyone has different ideas about what constitutes “bad taste”. Personally, I don’t believe books should be banned. If you don’t like the sound of a book, or what an author has to say, then don’t read it. If we start censoring people’s right to express themselves, then the world will become a nasty place. We have to trust that the publishers are responsible gate-keepers and mostly publish what is in public interest.
QWhich is the most under-rated book?I’d say most good books are under-rated. For me, there is no better form of escapism than getting lost in a good novel. I am constantly amazed by writers, as I know how difficult it is to finish a novel. I also believe that there are so many great books out there that if you’re reading something that doesn’t grab you, you should move on to something else.
QWhich are your favourite children’s books?The ones I read to my children as babies and remain on the shelf, dog-eared and chewed. Goodnight Moon is an American children’s book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. It has strange illustrations in red, green and orange, but the rhythmic lull of the words always got my babies to sleep. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is just amazing.