The View From Here Interview: Claire King
Photo by Debbie Scanlan, Wolf James Photography
Claire has also written short fiction, which has been published online and in print and has been recognised by places such as BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines, New Scientist, The Bristol Short Story Prize, the Sean O’Faolain Short Story Competition and Metazen.
You attended University in Cambridge and mentioned in your blog, when ..”Virginia Woolf visited Newnham to give a talk to the students on ‘Women and Fiction’. She discussed the idea that, ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’ and this talk was to become ‘A Room of One’s Own’, an essay that has proved inspirational for many women writers ever since.” Where do you write?
I don’t have an actual room of my own in which to write – wherever I carve out my physical writing space in our house it eventually fills up with the children’s offerings of drawings and stories and half eaten apples. But I think Virginia Woolf would agree that I do in fact have a room of my own, because I have had a great education, I have financial independence and I have, most importantly, the freedom and the time to write and create. I write at a table in a corner of our sitting room, which I de-clutter in the manner of a bird of paradise – by tossing stray twigs and hairclips out into the wider forest.
As a busy mother, how do you manage to get words on paper and stay sane?
It’s not easy. I wish there were a magic formula but there isn’t. If you’re a mum and you work and you keep your own house and you write, well it’s just not easy. I stay sane by neglecting the least important of these things. Ironing, dusting, hovering, washing the windows…it doesn’t get done. And when I feel most overwhelmed, I give my time to my family, because those moments are the ones I’d regret later if I overlooked them.
Living in France and choosing the setting for your story - which came first and how did place influence you in the story you chose to write?
I chose the setting after moving here. Before that I’d been half writing a story set around Lisbon. But when you’re immersed in the heat and the scents of summer here, I defy any writer to not want to pick up a pen and describe them. It does influence the story because it influences the characters. The blue skies, the heat, the countryside with its beauties and its dangers…it’s a character in itself.
Did you find local language (French / Franglais - English French words mixed as English replacements?) appearing in your work and how did you deal with them?
We mix up French and English at home. Even though English is the first language for all our family and what we speak at home, we all speak French in our day to day lives. Sometimes, in The Night Rainbow, Pea and Margot throw in some French vocabulary, which is consistent with their voices since they would have only come across certain words in a French context.