Trilby Kent has written for the Canadian national press and publications in Europe and America; her short stories have appeared in Mslexia and The African American Review, among others. She currently lives in London, where she is about to embark on an English PhD with a focus on Creative Writing. Her first novel for children, Medina Hill, is published by Tundra Books (McClelland & Stewart) on October 13.
Which 3 writers, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?
Unfortunately, most of my favourite writers are (or were) highly neurotic and unsociable creatures and would no doubt make rather terrifying company! Having said that…Truman Capote would be a hoot. Wendy Cope, too. Dulcie Deamer, simply because she’d probably turn up wearing a leopard skin, Stone Age-style.
Favourite writing snack?
Dried pineapple or edamame. A sneaky butter tart when I’m feeling homesick for Canada.
Longhand or computer?
Computer – although I do sometimes wonder if it makes the process rather too easy. Longhand probably produces more considered writing. I keep telling myself I’m going to try it some time.
As a child I read…
Quite a few books that I wasn’t supposed to, or that were too old for me at the time. I discovered Lord of the Flies when I was ten, and it terrified me. I loved anything that featured hapless orphans being shoved up chimneys and forced to eat gruel. My boyfriend still jokes that I was the freaky kid who knew a bit too much about bubonic plague and wanted nothing more than to be a nineteenth-century street urchin.
Win Booker prize or land Hollywood film deal?
Daily Mail or The Times?
The Times, definitely. The Daily Mail brings me out in a rash.
The best thing about being published is…
The thought of my characters coming to life for someone other than myself.
Independent bookshop or Amazon?
Please don’t make me admit to buying books for a penny on Amazon...! Actually, there’s a splendid indie around the corner from us (West End Lane Books - plug, plug!) and I do try to support them whenever I can.
Left on a cliffhanger or told all?
It’s a question of timing. Ending a chapter with a cliffhanger is good; ending a novel with one isn’t. That said, I try to avoid telling all – you’ve got to leave the reader space to imagine.
Misguided at best. Young people should be encouraged to read as widely as their interest and ability allow. Readers shouldn’t be pigeon-holed; neither should books.
I write for children because…
If you ask someone to name one book that has significantly influenced them, chances are it will be something they read as a child or teenager. Perhaps this is because young people are receptive to stories and new ideas in a way that adults often aren’t.
Enid Blyton was…
The source of my childhood fascination with tinned tongue, girls who look like boys, and the modifier “ripping”.
You really must read…
If you are a reader looking for exquisite writing by a Canadian author about an English icon, it doesn’t get much better than Helen Humphreys’ The Frozen Thames.. If you are a writer, The Paris Review Interviews. They are my comfort and inspiration. If you are a young person (or young at heart!), do seek out some of the wonderful children’s and YA books being produced across the Channel. There is so much really exciting writing available to us in translation now, and many gems don’t receive any press here. Guus Kuijer (The Book of Everything) and Anne Provoost (In the Shadow of the Ark) are two that I’ve particularly enjoyed.
My biggest tip for a children’s writer is…
Never underestimate your audience.
An author should never…
Underestimate the value of the humble ‘Delete’ button.