This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing, which has been shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, puts you in the head of a clever, troubled Irish girl and her rapidly collapsing life. As part of our exclusive six-part series, we’re joined by the novel’s author, Eimear McBride, who talks inspirations and giving her audience a completely different kind of reading experience.
There are two things. The first is that I wanted to find a way to give the reader a completely different kind of reading experience. I was trying to develop a technique, which could knock down the traditional boundaries between reader and character, so that the reader would align with the protagonist's internal and physical experience of life in a much closer, more immediate way. And the second is that I had a story I didn't really want to tell, which is always a good sign.
How does it feel to be shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction?
It's fairly extraordinary actually. It took me so many years to get published at all that, when I finally was, I had very low expectations of what would happen after. This is not a position I ever expected to be in. I'm delighted!
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given as a writer?
'Just keep going', which a writer friend said when I was writing Girl. I was so unsure of myself and whether or not I'd be able to achieve what I was aiming for that it was invaluable and later, when the publishing situation went from tough to tougher, it took on other – more Beckettian – meanings too.Which female authors inspire you?
The playwright Sarah Kane was a big influence on me at the time of writing Girl. Her sheer uncompromising ferocity was a revelation. I didn't know women were allowed to write like that and, until I saw her work, I didn't even know I thought things like that. I've always loved George Eliot too, for her great humanity, and I'd be lying if I said reading Edna O'Brien under the covers when I was 14 didn't turn my head completely.
If you could recommend one book to a friend what would it be and why?
That's an extremely difficult question to answer but, right now, it would probably be The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower. She undeservedly languished in the publishing wilderness for many years, so I've only discovered her recently, but The Watch Tower is extraordinary. An incredibly anxious story about women slowly becoming complicit in their own destruction in pretty, suburban Sydney, and beautifully written.