Debut novelist Sian Hughes on writing her way through grief, confusion and motherhood

Debut novelist Sian Hughes on writing her way through grief, confusion and motherhood

An award-winning poet whose debut literary novel has already been incredibly well received, Sian Hughes shares her experience of putting pen to paper in the hopes of finding meaning in the depths of tragedy. out armed with grief and confusion, Sian Hughes attempted to write her way into understanding what might lead to such tragedy, in a quest for forgiveness more than anything. When she was in her twenties, a friend took his life by entering a tidal river. An experience that shifted her mental landscape, Sian wrote Pearl about the seemingly random nature of this act. As she wrote and rewrote the story over many years, she experienced motherhood and lost her own mother, and found new ways to empathise with the central characters. Sian's first collection of The Missing (Salt, 2009) was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, shortlisted for the Felix Dennis and Aldeburgh prizes, and won the Seamus Heaney Award. Here, she shares her journey, beloved novels, and literary inspirations… Did you always want to be a writer/author? I have always been a writer. I don't remember discovering or deciding on it, but when I was seven my teacher Patrick made me a special book to write my poetry in. He was an exceptional teacher, an exceptional person, to be able to see the writer behind the scruffy, dyslexic mess that was my written work. He is still one of my best friends. What inspired you to start writing? This book grew out of a set of characters I invented a long time ago. I cycled past an old house on the edge of my village when I was going to see my first boyfriend, and I imagined what the house would be like inside, and who might live there. But I didn't have a plot for them. I experimented with writing in the voices of several of them, but I didn't know for years what might happen to them to make it into a story. Then when a friend of mine died in a river, I wrote all their names […]

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