Thanet Writers Question Shane Spall

Writer and author Shane Spall answers the Thanet Writers Discourse Questions.

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© Shane Spall / Thanet Writers / Fair Use / Images Combined

My name is Shane Spall, I’m in my 60s; a late-bloomer baby-boomer. I left school when I was 14 and became a waitress.

Origins

This is when my writing career began; I listened and observed. I still have a huge inventory in my head and in notebooks of conversations and scenarios from that restaurant. For example, there was a secret love affair going on between the head waitress and the chef. I recently used a line I overheard, ‘He always gives me a nice bit of scrag end.’ It’s in my novel Fanny and Flo (a work in progress). I hadn’t a clue what the waitress really meant; I thought it was a joint of meat he was giving her. I was only 14.

Influences

These are very clever questions, the ones on the interview sheet, because one leads directly to the next. People in everyday situations influence my writing. Everyone has a story; even the most boring person in the world has something going on.

Motivations

All of the above motivates me to write. I still use a notebook and scribble down conversations, I’m a word thief. I just move them around a bit, but I can’t improve on a nice bit of scrag end.

Habits

I wish I was like Graham Green—500 words before lunch, but I’m a lazy beast, it’s all or nothing, so mostly my writing habits are pretty bad. It’s 8 hours or 30 seconds—nothing in-between—although a deadline is a great motivator, otherwise I arrange flowers or turn out the fridge and feel bad.

Inspirations

As for what inspires me, I’ve already answered that, but once I get going it’s hard to stop. I wrote 80,000 words in two months recently, I sent it to my agent and she said she didn’t much like it—quite right too, hopefully now with her helpful notes it’s much improved.

Barriers

A dirty fridge and wilting flowers hold me back from writing. Mind you, if I apply myself I could write a thousand-word short story about both. I’ll write a couple tomorrow after I’ve cleaned the fridge.

Achievements

As a woman, my family is my greatest achievement, my kids are pretty amazing, and I can take a bit of credit for that. Above I state that I’m a late bloomer, I say this because I wasn’t published until I was 60, but I have a large box of my writing endeavours. A few years ago I had all my handwritten stuff typed and put onto my computer. I dip into these files all the time, so I guess that’s an achievement, that I have a fairly rich source of material, written over fifty odd years. I have so many voices I can use. Fanny is aged 20 in my novel and Flo is in her 60s, so bingo! I also won an award for my first book, The Voyages of the Princess Matilda—the British Travel Press’ Narrative Travel Book of the Year Award.

Advice

What advice can I give to writers? That’s easy—don’t buy flowers and don’t keep a dirty fridge.

Now

I am presently attempting to trim chunks from my work in progress: Fanny and Flo. My literary agent wants 80k and every time I get rid of 5 thousand words I end up writing another 10 thousand.

Next

What’s next for me? Tomorrow I’m going to trim 10,000 words—but first I’m having a mani-ped while I think about it, then I’ll put on a pair of marigolds and find a clean sponge.

Shane Spall is from a large Midlands family. Her mother called her Number Five and her father after a character in a Western.

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