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Jan 10

BUSINESS OF BOOKS: TAKE FOUR WRITERS – INTRODUCING CLAIRE DYER

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Being a poet and a novelist I’m often asked whether I prefer one over the other and I always answer that I love them both the same – like I do my two children, obviously! Seriously though, I really do believe both mediums are two sides of the same coin; both set scenes, tell stories and are peopled by characters who I hope are vivid and compelling.

The main differences may seem mundane: in poems the lines don’t always go right across the page, whereas in novels they do and, in poetry we have fewer words to play with, so every word really does count.

That’s not to say, however, that we can’t play with format in fiction and invest our prose with the same attention to detail as we do in poetry – in fact, we should.

Also, I believe that, as in poetry, a novel should have moments of distilled emotion but, unlike with poetry, in a book we can give our readers and characters, for that matter, more instances of down time: conversations about the weather, making tea, going to the shops.

For me, a poem works if it tumbles down the page and takes me with it and I believe a novel works if it draws me in and keeps me held safe in its narrative. I sincerely hope both my poetry and prose do both of these things!

So with this thought I’ll say a few words about my publications. I’ve had two collections of poetry published by the very lovely Two Rivers Press and, although each are only 50 odd pages long, they both took years in the making – each poem, I hope, earning its place in the stories the books aspire to tell. The second book, Interference Effects, came out of my MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway and what the poems aim to chronicle is how, as colours vary in a butterfly’s wing depending on the angle at which we view it, our impressions and thoughts about subjects as varied as art, love and loss, marriage and memory, can change when we look at them through different lenses.

I’ve had two novels and a short story published by Quercus and am utterly thrilled that The Dome Press are publishing The Last Day on 15th February. This book has had an interesting genesis. It was always going to be about the three of them: Boyd, Vita and Honey, but it was only on the second rewrite that Vita pushed her way front and centre and waved at me, glasses in one hand, paintbrush in the other and said, ‘Put me in the first person,’ and as much as I loved writing about the other two, it was Vita who called to me the loudest.

Also, during the rewrites, the book changed from being a story about one thing to a story about another: it had the same people and same plot but eventually it revealed its true colours (a bit like a butterfly’s wings!) and it’s been a wonderful experience being part of this evolution.

The title came to me (bizarrely and somewhat prophetically) on the day after the EU Referendum in June 2016 and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to fit with the fact that we all will experience last days: the last day of school, of work, of love, of life. And, if after every beginning there is an ending, then after every ending is a beginning: after every last day there is a next day and it is this message I hope the book holds at its heart.

https://www.clairedyer.com

@ClaireDyer1