Hello Barry. Can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Barry Lillie and I’m lucky to be based both in the UK in Stoke on Trent, my birth town and in my adopted country, Italy in the mostly undiscovered region of Abruzzo.
Ooh, that sounds lovely. How long have you been writing?
My first memory of writing is aged around 10 writing a Scooby Doo script for my friends that we performed in the street. I’ve been writing professionally for the last 22 years.
What first got you interested in writing?
An amazing English teacher named Ian Wooldridge, back in high school. He taught us that anything can be experienced through a mix of imagination and words.
That's brilliant. I had a teacher at school like that too. Do you attend a writing group?
I attend the Renegade Writers’ group in Stoke on Trent. I joined about eleven months ago after seeing a flyer for the group in my local library.
Why do you attend a writing group?
The group has a diverse mix of people with varied interests. Our youngest member is 16 and our oldest is, well let’s just say a tad over 21. I attend because I know I can rely upon honest and constructive criticism and advice.
What's the most valuable thing you've taken away from your writing group?
Wonderful fresh free range eggs (two of our members keep chickens). Also that you have to learn to accept criticism in whichever way it is delivered.
What genre(s) do you write?
As my professional writing is taken up with non-fiction for the news/magazine market, the genre I choose for my fiction is comedy. I don’t think comedy is particularly easy to write but it just seems to flow easily for me.
I'm a but scared of comedy writing. Paranoia sets in; what if no-one finds it funny?! Are there any genres you don't enjoy writing?
As the first ten years of my writing career was as a playwright, scripts now are a bit of a chore, so I steer clear of them. (That is unless I’m being paid).
What types of things do you write?
Non-fiction on many topics, mostly travel writing and news features. I’m absolutely hopeless at coming up with ideas for short stories so tend not to write many. I have written a few songs and a couple of full librettos in the past.
Have you ever had anything published?
Yes. Around 60 plays that have been performed professionally both in the UK and abroad, and many magazines and newspapers.
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers?
My first fictional work is at the moment being offered to literary agents. So I’m in a perpetual state of finger crossing.
Good luck with that. Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?
I’m a bit old school and prefer paper books, this is due to the fact that I’ve not yet entered the digital reading community, in fact I’ve not so much as held a Kindle. But if someone would be kind enough to buy me one I’ll give it a bash and may have a different response later. With regards to e-publishing, anything that gets your work read has to be a good thing.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I don’t think I’m influenced by anyone in particular, I love the English writer James Herbert, but I’d never be able to write horror/thrillers. I get my inspiration from everyday situations. My novella, Willow and the Motorway Horses was borne out of a bizarre conversation in a van whilst driving along the M25.
I don't think I should any questions about that conversation! How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
They just pop into my head as fully formed mini people.
That sounds interesting! Do you have a writing routine?
I write daily, a deadline is good for keeping me focussed; nothing can damage your ability to earn more than missing a deadline. With my fiction I still try to put down a few lines each day, I don’t care if it’s a thousand or just two, quality is always better than quantity. However there’s always something out there to distract me, especially in the mornings when you want to catch up with e mails and facebook.
That dreaded procrastination strikes again! Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I plan everything.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
Most: (Fiction) The ability to make decisions about other people’s lives.Least: (Non-Fiction) Research as it can be time consuming and dull.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
Take risks and always have a pencil sharpener in your bag.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Write as much as you can but very early on develop the craft of self-editing. Killing your darlings can be very cathartic.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
I think anyone that writes with the intention of being published thinks it’s important to share what they have to say. Anyone who says they don’t is a liar.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
No and no.
Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers?
Yes, in fact I have an appearance coming up in two weeks.
I hope that goes well for you. Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
Cooking – if I didn’t write I’d be a crazy celebrity chef.The arduous task of becoming fluent in Italian.Music features big in my life and I’m never out and about without one of my 5 iPods.
Watch out Gino D'Acampo. What types of things do you read?
I don’t read enough, but when I do I quite like a mix of biographies and gentle humour.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotations?
“Better to try all things and find all empty, than to try nothing and leave your life a blank.” - Charlotte Bronteand“In the flat field I do get bored” - Bauhaus.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
Wuthering Heights, because it’s a timeless classic or the Mr Men books as they’ve earned Mr Hargreaves a small fortune.
What are you working on at the moment?
A comedy novel about a woman with secondary breast cancer, she is given a life expectancy prognosis of just twelve months and it’s about what happens over that time period.
That sounds very interesting. Do you have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook dedicated to your writing?
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Don’t just say you want to write, do it. Until you exercise those digits you’re still a dreamer.
Good advice. Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
I'm not a big writer of poetry, but I did find this one which I wrote back in 1998.
The Watcher in the Waves
Sea, come rolling in to shore
Let white foam swallow me
Pull me deep into your bowels
Your salty black abyss
Steal away my fragile life
I’m sure I’ll never miss
The blue of summer skies
The velvet of a kiss
Waves erode my consciousness
Salt remove my mind
A thousand mermaid siren songs
Like thunder shatter time
Darkness envelope my soul
Let creatures suck my life
Its selfless fluid oozes forth
From silent glassy eyes
Let golden shards of morning sun
Break your roaring waves
Let birds alight your frozen skin
To steal a fearful look within
At bodies white and bloated
The wrinkled skin of men
You took to die within your arms
Their watery amen
My lungs scream out with twisting fire
My voice no sound emits
But silent sea you hear my call
But never answer it
My eyes now blind, they cry dry tears
So signals feature forth
But silent sea you sense my need
But never life restore
My ears, full up they sound like bats
A thousand mammals scream
But silent sea you steal my soul
No echo doth redeem
My limbs are numb, they ache with cold
Like an ancient hollow crypt
But silent sea you hold my hand
And never ease your grip
White horses leap upon the sands
Where happy children play
While the watcher in the waves
Waits for another day
To steal a life, to fed his lust
For naked virgin souls
To drag them down into his world
That dark oppressive hole
The watcher never shows his face
The watcher never cries
The watcher only plays a game
With innocent, pale lives
Oh sea come rolling in to shore
Let white foam kiss god’s feet
Repent your sin, release the souls
That swim within the deep
Tormented souls with no release
From blackened eyes and burning lungs
Oh sea come rolling in to shore
Give your moon souls to the sun
© Barry LillieThank you very much Barry.