My First Time...with Yara Rodrigues Fowler
Yara Rodrigues Fowler grew up in Brazilian British household in South London, where she is still based. Her writing has appeared in Skin Deep, Litro, and other publications.
She’s a trustee of Latin American Women’s Aid, an organisation that runs the only two refuges in Europe for and by Latin American women. Stubborn Archivist is her first book.
Come meet Yara at The Riff Raff on Thursday March 7th.
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?
I couldn’t tell you this. Perhaps 6 or 7 years ago. I’ve always had word docs with parts of poems in them and that was how the book started.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?
Getting a book deal won’t solve all my problems or won’t stop you being depressed. But it will stop that one particular gnawing for recognition.
What did you enjoy most about writing it?
I used to have to work in the evenings and weekends and this was really hard - and I never want to minimise how exploitative the publishing industry can be in this regard. But sometimes I would go to the National Theatre or Waterstones TCR on Friday evenings (these are the few places with wifi and plugs that are open past 10pm which aren’t pubs). I used to have a glass of wine and feel the city move around me and that made me feel really good and happy. And the worst part?
There was a point where a number of publishers had indicated interest but only if I made the book at least twice as long. I was working full time at a communications agency (where another young woman employee had decided to bully me…). I was working weekends and using my holiday to write. I was truly exhausted and burnt out and had no social life. I had no time to try and enter a writing community. I was regularly rejected by funding applications. I felt so alone and sick of the text and had no guarantee of any kind of publishing deal at the end of the redraft.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
Social media but also a deep full body fear that everything is pointless and shit anyway.
Go-to writing snacks?
I love eating but don’t really snack when I’m writing. Sometimes pastries as they are good value for money food in central London.
The book that changed you?
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Your pump up song?
Untouched by The Veronicas
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?
Finish a draft. Try not to worry about what other people are doing or advice that is overly prescriptive or too serious. Remember that how people read a text is infuriatingly dictated by context; the way people read word docs with stuff sent in by new writers is not generous. And their assessments are often totally wrong.
Why do you write?
I think I have stuff to say, and that stuff matters. The lives I write are contemporary but my perspective is very historical. I’ve been framed as writing “between cultures” (specifically Brazil and the UK) but I have a strong, cohesive sense, informed by these two perspectives, of a singular history, a shared history which answers the important questions of how we got to where we are. This is radical and I believe in it.
The other thing I think is that writing can bring joy and this is also radical. ('The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too', of course.) Being alive can be so hard sometimes, joy is one of the ways that we survive and heal. This is one of the reasons why scenes of women dancing are so prominent in my work.
Buy Yara's book here>>>