Interview with Rebeccah Giltrow

Rebeccah Giltrow

Interview Date: 1/10/2013


Rebeccah is a writer by trade, with skills of varying degrees in knitting, baking, EFL teaching, performing, photography, dog-walking, sleeping, painting, and procrastinating. She always carries a red pen with her, in order to correct punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors that she finds on her travels.
Rebeccah has been a writer since she can remember, but after graduation from University of Essex in 2005 with B.A. (hons) English Language & Literature, and again in 2008 with M.A. Literature: Creative Writing, she decided to take the craft more seriously. Under the watchful eye of authors and university lecturers, Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Adrian May, Philip Terry, and Marina Warner, Rebeccah honed her writing skills and became an avid follower of the Oulipo, focussing on this for her final dissertation.
Since graduating from university, Rebeccah has written a collection of 26 lipogrammatic short stories, Betwixt The Cup and The Lip, a collection of 12 Christmas stories, Twelve Days of Krista May Rose, and a full length novel, Lexa Wright's Dating Sights. Excerpts of these can be found on her blog. She is currently writing her second novel, Here We Find Ray, as part of the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge.
As well as writing, she regularly performs at the New Words, Fresh Voices open mic night at The Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft, where she reads her poetry and short stories.
Rebeccah is an active member of Lowestoft Library Book Group and Lowestoft Library Writing Group. She has been attending these groups since 2009, and in September 2012 she set up a writing group for teen writers (aged between 11 and 17) at Lowestoft Library.
Rebeccah has recently taken up blogging, mainly about anything to do with the literary world. She interviews published and unpublished authors, and leaders of writing groups. These interviews can be found on her blog.
When she's not writing, Rebeccah enjoys producing visual art, and occasionally takes photos, paints pictures, and makes collages. Her work has been shown at The Halesworth Gallery, The Ferini Gallery, and Lowestoft Arts Centre.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I can't remember when I started writing. I've always had stories in my head and occasionally they went down on paper. Otherwise they stayed in my head, or I told them to my toys around the tea party table. I then found poetry when I was a teenager, but it was all emo/angsty stuff, so I don't think that really counts. I started seriously writing in my third year at university, after taking a creative writing module. I realised that I had the basic skills to be a writer, and by taking the class I was educated in various writing techniques and styles, and I've just built on my knowledge from there.

If you could have one superpower, what would it? (Assuming said power would be reasonably powerful.)

I'd quite like the ability to change my appearance so that I could look like other people. I don't know if that's a superpower, but it would mean that I could get away with stuff, and other people would have to deal with the consequences *evil laugh*

Kev's response: Shapechanging sure is. Mystique (see X-Men) has that type of power.

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

I'm afraid that I don't know much about superheroes, but my favourite is the original Batman. I love the BIFF, KAPOW, ZOK! and the cardboard sets and the unrealistic fight scenes. I think it is possible to save the world and make me laugh at the same time!

Kev's response: I watched a pair of episodes a few weeks ago. I'd forgotten just how silly they were. :)

Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

As cliched as it sounds, I get my inspiration from life. I write about people and places I know. I adapt them, and fictionalise them, but the basis for everything I write comes from some sort of real life experience.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

I don't plan plan, but I do start out with some idea of what I want the story to be about. I like to let the words take charge and write themselves. It takes a bit of pressure off me at any rate, and usually they come together to form a pretty decent story.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

A bit of both really. I have to write when I'm inspired. I have to get the words down otherwise I'll forget them, and that would be a tragedy! However, I do like to write even when I'm not inspired, just to keep my brain ticking. And sometimes I surprise myself and find that writing with a lack of inspiration can lead me to writing something that I'm very pleased with.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

I don't really have a favourite genre. I read pretty much everything, and I try to write in varied styles to push myself. I guess I enjoy real life fiction and dystopian fiction (a bit of a contrast there!). Some of my favourite books that I consider to be 'real life' are Fatso by Lars Ramslie, Grow Up by Ben Brooks, Submarine by Joe Dunthorn, and The Bird Room by Chris Killen. Nothing much happens, but you're somehow transported off into another world that you'd quite like to be a part of. And on the flipside, I am drawn to the desolate, futuristic worlds of 1984 by George Orwell, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Unit by Nini Holmqvist, When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood; the list could go on! I tend to write fictionalised versions of real life. I think the world outside our windows is fascinating, and people don't tend to take notice of what's going on around them, so I like to try and write about that. I would like to write something with a dystopian edge, but I haven't had my fill of real life yet!

Kev's response: I hope not!

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

I enjoy the actual writing. Sitting at my computer, head full of ideas, fingers tapping away at the keyboard. I love to be 'in the zone', where nothing else matters apart from the words being produced on the screen. The story can go off in all directions, but at least it's going somewhere.

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

I can't say there's anything about the actual writing process that I don't enjoy. Most people say they don't like editing or rewriting, but one of my favourite things is sitting with my manuscript and a red pen, ripping it to shreds! I guess if there's one thing I don't like, it would be writer's block. But then I overcome that by writing about it!

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

Erm ... *thinks* ... I've never broken a bone. I think most people have broken or fractured something, but I appear to have strangely solid bones! Perhaps I'm Bruce Willis in Unbreakable!

Kev's response: I'll advise avoiding the pleasure of one. There's not much to be gained from the experience...

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

I've always been good at starting many things and not finishing any of them, but when it comes to writing novels, I like to focus on one and work on that until it's finished. Otherwise I'd get confused (and believe me, it doesn't take much). However, I do read more than one novel at a time!

For my evil plot to take over the world, do you think I should go for a grand, take-all-at-once type scheme, or spread my evil influence like mad, ravenous butterflies?

Take all at once. Get it over and done with!

Kev's response: Noted! Grand, world-conquering scheme in the works!

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I would love for paper books to prevail in this battle, but sadly I don't think this will be the case. I love a paper book. There's something indescribable about the feel and the smell of a book. And I love going into book shops and browsing the shelves. You can't do that with e-books. There's a lack of personality with e-books.

Kev's response: I used to feel that way. I realize now that so many bookstores (especially the big ones) work to control what you have access to, and I'm not a fan of that.

What are your current projects?

I participated in my first NaNoWriMo in November 2012. I managed to write just over 50,000 in the 30 days, but I didn't finish the story. I haven't touched it since November, so I really need to get back on with that and finish it. It's called Here We Find Ray and it's about a boy who becomes infatuated with an older woman, but as he grows up the infatuation turns into an unhealthy obsession. This is quite different to what I usually write so I'm excited to see how it ends.

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

Learn how to do everything yourself, or find someone who can help you. With traditional publishing, there are people who edit and proofread and design covers and advertise (and do so much more) for you. When you self-publish you have to do all those things yourself. So before you even think about putting your book into the world, make sure your manuscript is the best it can be. Edit, rewrite, get someone else to edit, spell check, edit, rewrite, repeat. Then find out how to advertise your book and promote yourself. Make good use of social networking. Put yourself out there, and don't be afraid.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

I do indeed:

Kev's response: Rebeccah, thanks for joining me! Good fortune on the writing, and get on that dystopian future book! :)

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