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The Makings of An Author

Rebecca has been interested in reading and writing from a very young age. Her father was a comic book collector, and her mother used to take her to the local library. She first realised that words had power when she was taught religious hymns as a child, which Rebecca describes as “poetry for young people.” She would also read Dr Seuss books during those trips with her mother. These experiences used to leave her “with poetry and rhymes in her head all the time.” Another critical experience that Rebecca remembers from her childhood is when her headmaster at school read older war poems in the assembly hall before starting lessons at school. These literary experiences left a lasting impression on Rebecca and led her on her journey with books and writing.

Rebecca has been entering local competitions for poetry and fiction for quite a while, particularly the Government’s Annual Short Story competition, limiting entries to one thousand words, leading her to dabble in the art of short story writing. 

When asked about her writing process, Rebecca gave a fascinating answer, as she leads such a busy life, working full time and having a family. She finds it very hard to write every day, and it plays on her mind like a burden because it’s something that she always wants to do but just doesn’t have the time for. Her solution? Once a year, for a week, she escapes to Tarifa and locks herself away in a self-imposed writers retreat exile with no communication with the outside world. 

These literary experiences led her on her journey with books and writing.

Writing Ten Thousand Words

Ten Thousand Words is a collection of ten short stories, all based on real events. Rebecca says that inspiration for these stories come from her own experiences or from listening to other people’s stories and asking people about their lives with some artistic license to turn them into stories. She believes that listening to these stories was integral to writing her poems, stories and the latest novel.

The inspiration for Rebecca’s latest book came during the 2020 lockdown, where she already had six of the ten stories, and she decided to spend the time at home building the last four to finish the collection. Although she had a full house, Rebecca found that lockdown was the best time to write because everyone would go to bed late and wake up late, leaving her the mornings to write the short stories in peace. 

When pressed about her favourite story from Ten Thousand Words, Rebecca allows herself a second to think, since this is like being asked which of her children is her favourite – but then finally decides that it is “La Charlotte De L’Isle” because of her vivid memories of “going to the chocolate shop with the witches”, which she often reminisces about with her family that travelled there with her.

While talking about this book, Rebecca’s face lit up when talking about Charles Durante, who wrote the introduction. She describes with jest how she had to drop off the extensive manuscript in his post box, and then a few weeks later, she collected it from the same post box. She is very grateful to him for writing the introduction, which she believes adds an extra layer of context and class to the novel.

What advice do you have for young authors?

“Just write your stories and finish them. Also, never throw anything away because you’re going to wish you had kept them to look back on and get inspiration from.”

Do you have any unpublished or half-finished books and will we get to see them?

“Yes, I have a few unpublished books that I’m yet to release. In particular, I have a novel about Portsmouth set in the eighties which I’ve been working on for three years, and I hope to finish soon.”

What under-appreciated novel do you think everyone should read?

“I don’t have a novel in particular that I think everyone should read, but I think everyone should read some Truman Capote and Arundhati Roy because they are great!”

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