JQM LITERARY CHAT Welcomes Virginia Moffatt
Tell us about yourself:
I am a 53 year old writer who lives in Oxford. I always wanted to write from an early age, but life and work kept getting in the way. It wasn’t till I took a career break when I was 39 that I began to take it seriously. Since then I’ve done a Diploma in Creative Writing, and had four books published: a flash fiction collection, a novel, an essay collection I edited and a Lent course. I’d love to write full time, but alas, don’t make enough money for that, so work as a procurement and contracts manager for a group of schools, while scribbling away in my spare time. I am married to a peace activist, Chris Cole, who runs a small NGO researching and campaigning against British drones. When I first started writing properly, my children were aged between 1and 5, they are now aged15-19 and so my writing life is a lot easier these days.
Tell us about your book:
Echo Hall is a story about the nature of unresolved conflict and how if it is left untackled problems resurface from generation to generation. it tells the story of three women, Rachel, Elsie, and Ruth who experience love, loss and conflict during times of war. the question it is posing is history doomed to repeat itself, or can we find another way?
What influenced you to write your current genre?
echo hall is a multi genre novel. It is gothic, historical, political and family saga. I didn’t really choose the genres, the story did. the gothic came first, as I was inspired to write it due to the fact I was living in a remote village and used to imagine voices at night time. The novel came from the thought: what would happen if those voices were real? Whose would they be?What would they be saying? So naturally I found myself in a big old country house with a family full ofsecrets. But as I began to work it out, I realised I had to go back in time, and once I had the family conflict pegged I realised I was writing historical fiction (even the 90’s which I lived through!). When I decided which eras to set my characters in, I saw that by writing this family saga, I had the opportunity to tackle the politics of war and peace. When I began in 2004, it was a year after thesecond gulf war, so this felt like an important subject to write about. It still does.
Who are your favorite authors?
Big question! Modern authors I love are Jeanette Winterson, Marilynne Robinson, David Mitchell, Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, classic authors, include Charles Dickens, the Brontes, Wilkie Collins, Thomas Hardy, Graham Greene, EM Forster, George Orwell, but there are loads more.
What are your favorite books?
The Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Woman in White, Our Mutual Friend, Cloud Atlas, A Prayer for Owen Meany, My Name is Red, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Gilead, Home and Lila, Alias Grace. Again, there are loads more.
I recently really enjoyed Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill – it’s a literary spoof about fake Australian writers which is witty and perceptive, but also tells a cracking good story.
Who are your favorite literary characters?
Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane Eyre, Eugene Wrayburn (‘Our Mutual Friend’) until Dickens sanitises him, Crispin Hershey in David Mitchell’s, ‘The Bone Clocks’, Frodo Baggins, John Ames (Gilead), Janie (Their Eyes Were Watching God) and one from childhood Dido Twite in Joan Aitken’s Wolves chronicles, the first time I found a brave heroine in a children’s book.
Is there anything you want to share with potential readers?
I love nothing more than being swept away by a story, getting so immersed in the lives of the characters that they become real for me. So that’s what I want to do for my readers. I want you to be moved, involved, to be challenged in your thinking and for the book to linger in your mind long after the last page.
Where can we go to learn more about you and your literary works?
You can find out about Echo Hall here: https://unbound.com/books/echo-hall
I have a blog ‘A room of my own’(https://virginiamoffattwriter.wordpress.com/) where I post about my writing, books, tv and films. You can also follow me on twitter @aroomofmyown1 and Facebook Virginia Moffatt