I was delighted to have the chance to interview John Banville for writing.ie on the release of his latest novel.
In Ancient Light Alexander Cleave revisits both the memory of a teenage affair with a much older woman and looks further into the enigma of his daughter Cass’ fate previously touched on in Eclipse (2000) and Shroud (2002). I was keen to talk to John Banville about Ancient Light and the tricky art for the writer, of negotiating memory and invention.
On reading Ancient Light I felt that it had the cohesion and integrity of a short story. I asked Banville how he achieved this, but he is sceptical that Ancient Light had that kind of coherence. “I’m not sure that any novel could have. I think of the short story as something like Zen archery, or Japanese print-making: a long period of reflection and preparation, then a rapid, fluid gesture and the thing is done. The writing of a novel is a far messier, more incoherent process. But I’ll accept your flattering judgement,” he says. Whether or not he believes he has achieved this intensity and clarity of message, he tells me that he does try to make his “novels as dense and demanding as poems” (Apparently his publishers despair when he says this) “but it’s true – and perhaps a poem is rather like a short story, with the same kind of thereness.”
I also chatted to busy writer and mum of four Mary Vensel White about how her novel The Qualities of Wood was picked up by Harper Collin’s after she uploaded it to the writing site Authonomy. Click here for more
A nice writing boost to find that I was shortlisted for this Anam Cara writing retreat competition.
One of my favourite writers Tania Hershman chats about her new short story collection here on Nuala Ni Chonchuir’s blog. And another new writer Mary Costello that I’ve just discovered through the Stinging Fly is interviewed here by E.R. Murray.
And don’t forget that the Sean O’ Faolain short story prize deadline is July 31st. I was longlisted a while back and hope enter again.
In the meantime I’m like Niamh Boyce, wondering how to write in the summer with all the kids about. I’m adding words to my latest book The Exhibit of Held Breaths while also taking an objective look at my completed (I think) book The Book of Remembered Possibilities which I hope to submit shortly. What about you, how are you finding the summer writing and living wise? Is it time to live, have fun and store up ideas or are there ways of doing everything, and should we?