Hannah Vincent studied Drama & English at UEA and gained her MA in Creative & Critical Writing at Kingston University. Her first novel Alarm Girl is published by Myriad and her new novel The Weaning is published by Salt.
Interviewed by Lee Wright
LW: Hannah, you began your career as a playwright, what first drew you to that form?
HV: I was (still am – though to a lesser extent) an incorrigible show-off when I was young, which took me into acting and I studied drama at university. When we needed a play to take to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival I stepped up to the plate.
LW: What is your approach to writing dialogue?
HV: I am a very nosey person. I like to listen in to other people’s conversations. To write effective dialogue all a writer needs to do is listen to how people speak. I am a big fan of Pinter’s plays and my enthusiasm for his work taught me to be alert to subtext and to what folk aren’t saying.
LW: You now have two novels under your belt (Alarm Girl and most recently The Weaning) how long did you work on each novel?
HV: It depends when you start counting… The initial idea for Alarm Girl came to me twenty-five years ago but I wrote it as a play. I couldn’t make the play work properly but the idea didn’t go away. As for The Weaning, I can date its genesis back to 2010 when I started work as a childminder and knew immediately that this was a world I wanted to describe.
LW: What writer or book has most influenced your writing?
HV: Ooh, Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, probably. A seminal reading experience for me. I would say Rachel Cusk has been the biggest influence on me in terms of writing style. She was my tutor during my MA. More recently I have attended a few workshops with the short story writer Claire Keegan whose teaching is proving massively influential.
LW: What is the most painful process of writing for you?
HV: The only painful thing I find about writing is my inability to meet my own high expectations of my writing.
LW: You studied for an MA in Creative Writing at Kingston University. In what way did the MA help you as a writer?
HV: What was helpful about it was the exposure it offered to different ways of thinking about writing – different ways of thinking about other people’s writing, different ways of thinking about my own writing. It was also helpful to share my writing in a workshop situation and consider others’ response to it.
About the interviewer
Lee Wright was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire in 1980 and has been writing both fiction and non-fiction since 2008. He is taking an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester.