My First Time...with Amy Lilwall
Author and lecturer Amy Lilwall spent five years teaching English in France before moving back to Blighty in 2015 to complete her PhD in Creative Writing. It was while teaching at the University of Kent and preparing her thesis novel that her debut, The Biggerers, came to fruition. Now teaching at Falmouth University, Amy will be joining us at The Riff Raff on Thursday 12th July.
Here's the blurb for The Biggerers...
'Everybody became a bit mean. A bit individual. Units. That's all humanity could say for itself – well, it couldn't actually, because it was made up of too many, um, units. And then there were the elderly, who could never bear to be so isolated, yet isolated they were. It was cruel, really it was. And kids – not that many people had them any more – they seemed to be born sitting in one of those egg-shaped chairs, only seeing what was right in front of them.
So, the government asked a doctor, that famous one, to get a team together and figure it all out. He did. Everyone got a playmate. Well, everyone who wanted one, could buy a playmate. About a foot tall, they stood, naked (except in winter), very affectionate, not too intelligent. Mute, but cute - exactly what every home needs. Something to love, little units of love.
The Biggerers is set in a dystopian future where our two heroes, Bonbon and Jinx, spend their days gathering stones and feathers for their basket, and waiting to be fed by their owners. But it’s not long before getting sick, falling in love and wondering why they can’t eat with a spoon pushes them to realise they are exactly the same as their owners…only smaller.'
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book.
I was watching TV with my cat. He wanted to have his ears tickled but I had no way of asking me. I realised that I provided one of his main sources of pleasure and he had no control over whether he would receive it or not. It was then that I thought how interesting it would be to create a world where the same dynamic occurred between big and small humans.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?
That it would be published at some point. While I was writing it, getting published didn’t bother me so much because I was enjoying the process. Editing it for my agent, however, was a gruelling process and I did wonder if all that work would ultimately be for nothing.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
To avoid procrastination – disconnect from the internet. To embrace procrastination – getting up in the morning. The best way for me to concentrate on writing is to make it the first thing I do in the morning, even before tea and cleaning my teeth and getting out of bed!
What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?
I don’t really have tantrums… I didn’t like when other people were reading over my shoulder. I think I told a few people to mind their own business.
Best thing about writing your book? The sections of text that really please me. Those are the sections that I read over and over again whilst saying to myself, ‘Wow, that’s exactly what I wanted to say’.
And the worst?
Reading a fifteen-hundred page manuscript about 15 times.
Go-to writing snacks?
Pretzels and grapes. Anything bitesize (and vaguely healthy) that can be grazed from without have to look at it.
Who or what inspires you to write?
For a long time it was my PhD, and before that my MA. Now, it’s probably just knowing how happy writing can make me. I have been wrapped up in my job since September and now I’m finally getting to a point in the year where I can sit down and write and I really can’t wait!
The book that changed you?
There are so many. Probably, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I couldn’t put it down.
Your pump up song?
I have actually included it in my next novel. It is ‘An American Trilogy’ by Elvis Presley. Elvis rules.
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?
Probably my PhD supervisor, Scarlett Thomas. We have worked together for almost eight years now but we always talk about my projects and we’ve never even had a glass of wine!
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get published?
I always thought that writing is something you have your whole life to get right. So if, like me, your progress seems slow off the mark (I wrote The Biggerers five years ago) just keep at it, keep believing.
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