Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Interview: Sarah Winman

Sarah Winman grew up in Essex. She attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to act in theatre, film and television. Her debut novel, When God Was a Rabbit, is a coming-of-age story about the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister, and an unusual best friend. It was published on April 1st in Australia by Headline Publishing.

Hi Sarah, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions on the Shearer's blog. Let's start with an easy one - what are you reading at the moment?
I am reading Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen, T.S Eliot. Also just finished three fantastic debut novels – The Tenderloin by John Butler, Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett and The Dubious Salvation of Jack V – all different, all brilliant.

Can you tell me a little about the origin of When God was a Rabbit?
Although not autobiographical, I wanted this book to have the feel of a memoir, textured by real moments and real places of my childhood. It is narrated by Elly, who we meet in 1968 at the point of birth, and who we follow through the confusion, joy, and magic of childhood, where secrets are forged and rabbits speak. The first part of the book is set in Essex and Cornwall in the late 60’s and 70’s – the decades of my own childhood.

The book has attracted a lot of positive buzz, what has been the most rewarding comment/review that you've heard?
Simply when people say they laughed, cried, and embraced the journey. Can’t ask for more than that.

How was the process of writing the book?

After the First Draft, not bad!

Who or what do you think has influenced your writing?

I am hugely inspired by cinema, and it is my first love. Even today I get the same churn of excitement as I wait for a film to start. The joy of reading came quite late to me as an adult. Writers who inspire me are John Irving, Tim Winton, Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen... (I could go on)

What was the most challenging thing about writing the book and what made you happiest?

The most challenging thing was getting the child’s voice right and the humour. Coming to the end of that challenge – maybe having achieved a reasonable result - made me the happiest.

Do you feel that there's a continuity or link between acting and writing?

Yes, there’s no difference to me between the craft of acting and writing – the source is the same, the end result is the same – the authenticity of storytelling.

What's next for you?
I have been invited to a few literary festivals over the summer which is lovely. In between these I am progressing on another novel.

Thanks for chatting to us and congratulations on When God Was a Rabbit!

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