Anna Interviews: Author Faye Bird
Faye Bird Flies to Success!
Five young girls from EGA Book Club have been given an amazing opportunity to go to the Carnegie Award. Thanks to Ms Cheetham, who turns out to be not only ‘a mysterious librarian’, but also a great promoter of stimulating activities for young and energetic brains.
That’s where I got to interview the writer Faye Bird, who has the courage to speak about emotions through her books.
This weekend I spent some time reading your new book: ‘My Secret Lies With You’, I really liked it and found it very emotional. Everyone's emotions are different and emotions add an extra flavour to stories. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
“Yes, they can. There are so many different types of books, as I’m interested in behaviour and human relationship, my books stick to these topics. I mostly write in first person, so I think my writing is quite emotionally intense, because you’re really with the character and in their mind. As writer you definitely need empathy, you need to understand how other people feel. That doesn’t mean that all books need to be emotionally driven, I think it’s just in particular where my interest lies and that’s why I write a lot about emotion.”
As a child I’ve always wondered how authors pick their genres. I mean, what if you’re good at writing one thing but you don’t like it? What or who inspired you to write in your genre?
“In my opinion, you write what you like, which sort of reverses your question, as it’s actually a really interesting question. Most writers are big readers, so a lot of writers (me included) read something and think: ‘Wow, I love that book, I love how it’s made me feel. I wonder if I could do something like that.’ That’s how you get inspired. There wasn’t really a particular author that inspired me, I think it’s just wanting to do as well as some of the best books that I’ve read.”
People who work in the arts always try to include a little bit of themselves in their masterpieces. For example, Michelangelo painted a self-portrait of himself in between all the characters in the Sistine chapel. Do you feel like in one (or more) of your books, one of the characters represents yourself?
“I think each of the characters represents a little part of me, but that's probably only because the theme in all of my books is around self-expression, being able to really express yourself, and your identity. You can sometimes struggle as a person to be yourself and I believe that in some way it comes from me and my own experience. That doesn’t mean that my characters are exactly like me, it’s just that the themes probably represent some of how I feel, and some of these things come out of your subconscious.”
Do you have any other job apart from writing? If yes, how do you manage your time? If no, if you could go back in time and pick a job, would it still be a writer or would it be something else?
“It would be to be a writer, definitely, I can answer that straight away because it was my dream to be able to write and be published. I have two other jobs apart from writing, which means that I have to be very disciplined. I have two days a week that are just for writing, and then the other days I do other work. I actually really like that, because often it helps your writing to have space from it and a break. When I don’t look at my story for a few days, I see things I didn’t otherwise notice, things that might be wrong with it. So, I think it’s quite good to have other things going on in your life, to give you a new perspective on your story.”
Everyone has someone they admire, look up to or just like. It could be a family member, an actor, a painter, an Olympian, it could be anyone really. In this case I’m asking you about a writer...Who is your favourite author and did that change from when you were a teenager?
“I don’t have one favourite writer; I have lots of favourite writers. When I was young, I used to love Roald Dahl, he was absolutely my favourite writer. When I was at University, I became obsessed with Virginia Woolf and her ‘To the Lighthouse’. I’m currently reading ‘The Poet X’, which is on the Carnegie shortlist, and I absolutely love it. I’ve folded down lots of pages, there are beautiful quotes about self-expression and writing, that I really love. So, at the moment I’m really enthralled by that book.”
Personally, I carry around a little booklet with two columns one for first names and one for surnames. Every time I spot a nice name, I jot it down in my book. That is how I make up names for characters in my stories. How do you choose names for your characters?
“To me that sounds like a really good idea. I don’t do that. Sometimes a name comes to me really quickly, and that’s the best thing, when it just comes to you. You don’t really know where it comes from but you’ve got a sense of who this character is and a name that suits the character. Sometimes I do research for a character that might be in the past, like in ‘My Second Life’. It goes between the 1980’s and now, I might look up what’s a popular name for somebody that was born in that time and I do a bit of research around the names. It always comes down to a gut feeling, I’ll look through a list of names and I’ll know my character and then I’ll ask myself: ‘does that suit them, does that fit?’ And really that’s just for me to decide.”
Lastly, can you give three tips to why people should read your books if they haven’t done so before?
“I’m going to describe my books in three little ways:
- They’re mysterious and gripping
- They’re offbeat or unusual
- They’re emotionally strong, emotionally intense”