Arriving in London with £5, Stella rapidly begins hopping from one disastrous job, bedsit and boyfriend to another. All the time she is trying to paint pictures and write poetry. At last she gets a place in Hampstead but various men distract her from reaching the goal of holding an exhibition. An ever-changing group of friends moves her along from place to place. After each drawback Stela moves on, disaster after disaster, while the tally of of pictures shrinks to 36. Set in the heady days of 1960s Swinging London, this vividly charts one girl’s track through the untidy years at its height.
1 When and where do you prefer to write?
It always used to be at the kitchen table when the children were in bed. Now, many years later it is at a gigantic desk, bought with a £200 prize from Poetry Pulse. It is the kind of desk a solicitor or head teacher would have and it has a secret drawer.
2 Do you have a certain ritual?
Not at all. Just ashamed of myself if it’s after 2pm and I haven’t done anything constructive.
3 What is your favourite book?
‘Miss Lonelyhearts’ by Nathaniel West. It’s about a young man who does the agony column in an American newspaper during the Great Depression. He becomes involved in the letter-writers’ lives. (and gets killed by the husband of one of them.) I read it first at about fifteen years old and read it again every few years. It’s a pastiche of the story of Jesus and compassion.
4 Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
There’s a half-done detective novel that might be revived!
5 Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
They are a composite of invention and reality. All the writers I know in real life, well, I can always see who they are basing their people on.
6 Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Yes. Not a proper notebook , but there’s always paper and a biro in my shopping bag, handbag and coat pockets. I’ve written on bus tickets and shop receipts. In the early, wilder stages of a book, there’s even paper and a biro under the pillow.
7 Which genre do you not like at all?
Sci-fi and anything inter-planetary with lots of battles. Same with ancient history plots.
8 If you had the chance to co-write a book, whom would it be with?
Robert Harris ( Archangel, Fatherland, Enigma, etc) He blends in background, setting, dialogue and action seamlessly, and the story moves along at a good pace.
9 If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you choose and why?
Scotland, because it’s so near to England and yet totally foreign. It intrigues me – I’ve lived in Wales and Ireland already.
10 Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
TEA, tea, and more tea…All kinds of real leaf tea (no teabags.) Plain Fairtrade Co-op tea, and then Assam or Darjeeling in the late afternoon. Then, Lapsang Suchong, the strong whiskey of all teas. Then I empty the used tealeaves on the plants in pots by the back door.
In the best how-to-write book, ‘On Writing’ by Dorothea Brande, she advises writers to fill up a thermos flask, to rule out going off to make coffees as escapism
Thank you, Pat Jourdan and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Pat Jourdan trained as a painter at Liverpool College of Art -some of her paintings can be seen on Saatchi.com. Always balancing writing with painting, she has won the Molly Keane Short Story Award, second in the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award, and various other prizes. One Hundred Views of NW3 is her fourth novel.
“ I am used to producing a painting from start to finish and self-publishing gives the same creative possibility. It has the same excitement, the change from private to public.”