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MIR9 Editors
MIR9 Editors

The MIR9 editors are made up of Birkbeck students on the MA in Creative Writing and the MA in Shakespeare and Contemporary Studies. They are: Sue Betney, Dane Buckley, Sarah Cumming, Natalie Fletcher, Marlowe Harris, Zoë Ranson and Antonia Reed. When they aren't busy with the book, they can be found working on their own novels and short stories or hanging out at the Globe. They are looking forward to the MIR9 Launch Party on 27 September, 2012.


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MIR9: Introducing the Birkbeck writers – Susan Greenhill, Lucy Hume and Chris Lilly


Susan Greenhill studied bookbinding and book restoration at Camberwell School of Art, then spent thirty years as a photographer to the book trade, photographing authors and literary events for publishers and national newspapers. She writes stories and poems, and lives in North London—with a biographer.

 

Describe yourself in three words

Blonde not dumb

 

If you could have written any book which one would it be?

Fifty Shades of Grey—because it would give me the financial security to allow me to write what I like—even if it isn’t commercial.

 

Which three books would you take to a desert island?

  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. This is a book so rich in character it matures with the reader. If you read it when you're young you read it as a tragedy. If you read it later you read Emma as a woman fighting against the injustice of a world made by men for men. And if you read it later still you think -  silly cow - get a life, don't rely on other people to make you happy, find something that fulfils you and that is not based on romantic illusion. On my balmy desert island I would write Emma an alternative way out of her problems, and give her a happy ending. 
  • I Captured the Castle by Dodie Smith. This is a ‘feel good’ book –I’m sure there would be plenty of times on a desert island when I would need the escapism it provides.
  • Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction by Alison MacLeod. MacLeod is a writer I’ve only just discovered. She writes brilliantly. A book of modern short stories as varied and interesting as these would be like having fifteen different books by different authors – without the expense of having to pay excess baggage if I was ever rescued.

 

What are your top five writing tips?

  1. It’s never too late to start. You have more material the older you get.
  2. Don’t try to write like anyone else, find your own voice.
  3. Clear a stretch of time for writing. Don’t grab moments here or there—like when the ads come on the TV, or because you can’t stand the Archers.
  4. Keep a diary. If my father hadn’t read mine when I was 17 and thrown it in the boiler because he didn’t like what he read—I would have an accurate record of my whole history from the nineteen fifties and sixties to draw on now.
  5. Be an observer and an eavesdropper. This will help you to create realistic characters, believable situations and authentic places.

One extra point—pinched from Maeve Binchy: Set your ‘heroine’s’ birth in the same year as your own—it saves a lot of research.

 

And finally … salmon or green?

Salmon is too precise - there are more shades of green.

 

 

Lucy Hume grew up in rural Kent, studied at Durham and now lives in North London. She works as an editor for a play publisher and tries to write in her spare time. Reading Lorrie Moore made her want to write short stories and she hopes eventually to complete a collection. “At Bistro Joe’s” was inspired by an eventful summer working as a waitress at a pub restaurant in East Sussex after graduation.

 

Describe yourself in three words

Not great at counting

 

If you could have written any book which one would it be?

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith for its compassion and humour

 

Which three books would you take to a desert island?

The above for comfort and re-readability, plus I’d like to read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and it’s long enough to occupy some of those lonely hours sitting under a coconut tree. Maybe also The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami so I could try to figure out what it’s about.

 

What are your top five writing tips?

I have to make myself write using a tried and tested combination of imminent deadlines, enforced isolation and blind panic, so I’m probably not the best person to ask.

 

And finally … salmon or green?

Salmon every time.

 

 

Chris Lilly was born in 1953 in Dartford, home of Mick Jagger and the Vox amp. He left Hull University in 1976, and moved to the Isle of Dogs. He taught in Tower Hamlets until February 2011. Chris currently studies Shakespeare and Contemporary Performance at Birkbeck, and received a Certificate in Creative Writing from Birkbeck in 2009.

 

Describe yourself in three words

Lissom. Lithe. Languid. (not remotely true, but such lovely words)

 

If you could have written any book which one would it be?

Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

 

Which three books would you take to a desert island?

  • Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Because I haven't read, and think I should.
  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor. Because I have read it, and know I'll enjoy reading it again.
  • Sea to the West by Norman Nicholson. Because there's some poetry that sinks deeper every time you read it, and Nicholson is wonderful.

 

What are your top five writing tips?

  1. Have something to write about.
  2. Listen to the music your words make.
  3. Put your writing away for a month, then read it again. Still like it?
  4. Avoid symbolic character names unless you're Ben Jonson. Lionel Asbo? Do us a favour.
  5. Don't try and write like anyone else. The only voice is your own. We already have a J. K. Rowling and a James Joyce.

 

And finally … salmon or green?

Salmon. Smoked. With cream-cheese in a bagel.


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