My First Time...with Helen McClory
Helen McClory hails from Edinburgh and grew up in between there and the Isle of Skye. Helen describes herself as having a moor and a cold sea in her heart...
Tell us about your book...
Flesh of the Peach is an intense journey into and out of rage and grief, via sex and violence. A young woman takes a road trip from New York to the high New Mexico desert as her life, desires and memories spiral out from her control.
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?
It was some time while I was living in the states back in 2010 – I was trying and failing to be an American, and I had an image in my head of a greenhouse made of bottles. That’s where I started. The greenhouse remains in the books, the bottles are present in other ways.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write your first book?
You can and will finish this.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
Twitter! I’m there all the time because you can chat with other writers, pivot off and read interesting bookish articles (or aggravating news) and it sort of feels like research and gossip at once.
What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?
Not so much a tantrum as a bright afternoon of the soul: The point where I first realised it needed totally rewriting and restructuring, which I eventually decided required a trip out to New Mexico by bus so I could really get to grips with the setting. A book with no sense of place can sometimes float and get out of reach, and I had to stop that from happening.
Best thing about writing your book?
The writing part And the worst?
The editing part, which is also the longest.
Go-to writing snacks?
Not much of a snacker while I work but different sorts of tea depending on my mood: breakfast generally but there’s a brand called Yogi that do something called ‘Himalayan Harmony’ which is deliciously gingery.
Who or what inspires you to write?
The words of other writers, constantly coming into my life and making my heart larger and frailer too – I started writing because other writers sang siren songs of worlds and language and I wanted to sing back.
The book that changed you?
There are so many. Let’s go with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe for one of the first to make me stay up far past my bedtime, enthralled.
Your pump up song?
I’m usually a gloomy-folk sort of person, but taking this seriously, Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’. It’s impossible not to feel energised listening to it.
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead or alive, who would it be?
Well, I’m pretty shy and in awe of my heroes so I’d probably say – my friends who are writers. And also my heroes. But far less intimidating and I know they have good craic.
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?
Always remember, rejection is not a final sentence but an opinion, usually of one person. It can be a helpful or unhelpful opinion. Keep working.
When she isn't writing books Helen creates a fantastic newsletter which is completely up The Riff Raff's street - each week The Unsung Letter features one under-hyped book championed by a different writer, poet, critic or bookseller. If you're looking to add to your reading list - this is the perfect place to start - plus it promotes lesser known authors. BOOM. Subscribe to the newsletter here.