Writers Speak. Part II



We keep on publishing interviews with the winners of the Ruritania prize.

This time -- Adrian Markle. His short story "Swimming Lessons in the Adriatic" made him the 2nd winner. 

Full interview will be published in the issue 6 of Panel. 

Q: What’s your personal experience with Central and Eastern Europe? Did you live here or spend a long time here?

A: I’m originally from Canada, but I did an MA in creative writing in the UK, and when I graduated I had no idea what else to do. So I moved to Croatia, where my brother was living for medical school, and I lived there while I finished my ongoing projects and came up with a PhD proposal. Before then, and since then, I’ve also gone to Croatia for visits, holidays, writing retreats, etc. I eventually did that PhD at Exeter which meant moving back to the UK for several years, but I realized it’s Croatia that I consider my home away from Canada more than the UK, even if I can spend less time there.

Q: What do you think is the most important thing(s) any writer should keep in mind?

A: Many writers talk about writing as if it is an identity or a personality trait, and others talk about it as if it’s a or a gift or a talent, but actually I don’t think any of that is right. Romanticizing the craft hinders your ability to engage with it honestly, I think. Writing is a skill that you learn and practice like any other. And it’s also a job that you must treat like a job, and that includes forcing yourself to go to work. You can’t obsess about the magic of writing all the time, or you’ll never have anything else to talk about. And you can’t wait for inspiration or you’ll never get anything finished. Get up, get to work, finish work, and then get on with another element of your life. I guess afterward you’re allowed to look back at what a wonderful experience it had been, if you’re into that kind of thing, but in the moment I think you need to just do the work, and then when you’re done you need to do something else.

That seems to me like the only way to ensure that you have anything interesting to say and that you actually make the time to say it.

Q: What do you think has influenced you the most with your writing?

A: I’ve been influenced primarily by better writers who I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity with. My unparalleled BA workshop group, who taught me all sorts of things but perhaps most importantly how to self-evaluate without the constant need to compare myself to others, and my BA, MA, and PhD teachers and supervisors who have been generous and encouraging with their feedback and guidance. And perhaps most importantly is my partner Eleanor Walsh, who is the best writer I know of and who alone has provided me more insight than I have learned anywhere else.

Q: Are there any books or stories you’ve found influenced you as a writer?

A: Patrick Lane’s Red Dog, Red Dog was a revelation to me and I think is the single best novel I’ve ever read. In terms of my understanding and appreciation of fiction, there’s a clear line between before and after I read that book. It still floats around in my mind as the example of what I’m trying yet failing to reach whenever I work on my own projects. And of course Eleanor Walsh, whose writing is so good it’s almost annoying.


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