Archive | 12:47 am

A Chat with Fiona Robyn

5 Mar

As part of her Blog Tour ’09, Fiona Robyn, author of the newly released novel, The Letters was kind enough to share her thoughts on writing, pets, her hobbies, and, of course, birds!  Of course, I’d find a novelist who’s a birder.  At the end of the interview, I’m putting in links to her book and her blogs.  I hope you enjoy reading her thoughts and that you’ll consider reading her blogs and, even better, buying her book!

My review of the book is up at Amazon where I gave it 4 stars.  I really enjoyed reading it — it captivated me and I really did stay up until 1:40am on a school night reading it.

Fiona Robyn’s debut novel, The Letters, is a great read. We start out with Violet, a grumpy, difficult retired professor. She’s fleeing from a fight with her lover, Tom and heading into goodness knows what. Through the course of the story, we learn to love Violet and watch her growth with pleasure and a little pain for her awkward journey through change and through dealing with her adult children. Meanwhile, Violet finds letters on her doorstep that take us to another place and time. The Letters were written by a young mother-to-be years ago in another part of England. Who wrote them? Why are they showing up on Violet’s doorstep? and how does it all come together. Well, that’s why I stayed up until 1:40 on a work night reading it. Enjoy!

Tell us about your daily routine as a writer, all the good “I write in my jammies and never see anyone but the postman” bits.

It’s not very exciting – I just force myself to sit at my desk first thing and don’t let myself do anything else until I’ve done my writing for the day!  Once I open my email or Facebook, I’m doomed.  I write novels on my lovely blue laptop, and poems get written in notebooks.  small stones often turn up when I’m driving, and so I have to hold them in my head until I can get to a piece of paper and write them down.  How long I spend writing depends on what stage of the book I’m at – at first draft stage, it’ll be an hour-ish – at later drafts, it’ll be several hours or all day.

Do you have pets?  If so, what kind?  Do you find they help or hinder your writing process?

I have a very pretty tabby called Silver, and a very fluffy black cat called Fatty (his real name is Salem but noone calls him that any more).  Fatty hinders it when I’m typing and he wants my attention and bats and my hands with his paw until I stroke him, but he does mostly leave me alone and sleeps on the rug behind me in the office.  Cats seem to sneak into most of my books…

Do you have any hobbies?  Do you find they help or hinder your writing process?

I have been teaching myself Russian, as I thought (as a writer) it’d be helpful to know another language – I haven’t got my books out for a while, but I’m sure I will again.  I’ve been reading a lot about Zen Buddhism over the past few years, and I think this does help me to pay attention – a pretty vital skill for us writers.  I also have a vegetable patch and there are probably parallels with writing here too – learning to be patient, staying connected…

What role does nature play in your writing life?

I’m lucky enough to live in the country now, and so whenever I go and make a cup of tea I’ll pause and watch the birds on the bird feeder for a few minutes – it feels like just what I need after all those words.  Writing can be solitary and I also have a tendency to start disappearing into my laptop… being outside in the fresh air can help to counterbalance that claustrophobic feeling.  My next novel ‘The Blue Handbag’ is about a gardener, and it is full of green stuff.

What is your favorite bird?

Ooh, that’s tricky.  Since moving to the country I’ve become a bit of a twitcher… I think I’ll go for goldfinches – we always have several at our niger seed feeder, and they are so colourful. I like the way they peck at the seeds, like mechanical rocking birds, and I like their feisty little air-born fights – they always seem to be scrapping!  I also love wrens, goldcrests, robins, green woodpeckers, blue-tits…

So, there you have it.  Fiona Robyn, writer, cat-lover, speaker of Russian, twitcher.  Buy her book.  Visit her blogs.  Enjoy.  Participating in the Blog Tour was a gift to me, from myself, for my birthday!

Happy 45th Birthday to me.