5 Questions with Laura Barnett

17 September 2015

1. What are you looking forward to most in Wigtown this year and why?

Having the chance to explore the town and its festival for the first time. I’m a Londoner, but I spend as much time as I can in Scotland - my husband Andy is from Forfar in Angus, and we go out to the Western Isles every year, but I’ve actually never been to Wigtown. The festival programme looks fantastic, and I have family coming down to explore it with me.


2. Who would be your dream author to appear at this year’s festival?

Anne Tyler. I’ve loved her since my early teens, when my mum passed me a copy of her novel A Slipping-Down Life. I’ve read, and adored, pretty much all her other novels since, and I’m thrilled that her latest, A Spool of Blue Thread, is on the Booker shortlist this year. I don’t know any other author better able to convey the actual experience of life as it is lived, minute to minute; and the many layers of memory and emotion that underpin any relationship, and any family. But I understand that she rarely leaves her hometown of Baltimore, so it would be quite a coup….


3. Where do you source inspiration for your writing from?

Ah, so many places! From other books, plays, songs, films, TV series, paintings; from people’s faces; from the funny or interesting things I overhear in the street or on the train, or the quirky places I pass by. There’s a barbershop near my home in south London, for instance, called Gladness Created This Barbers. That’s surely crying out for a short story.


4. Do you have a favourite literary quote and if so, what is it?

I do: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” It’s from Truman Capote; I have it on a poster above my writing desk. Apparently he said it, rather sniffily, about Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, a book I happen to love - but it reminds me, when I’m writing, to try harder, to dig deeper, to take the time to find what I really want to say, and the most precise way to say it.


5. Your novel explores different paths and versions of life as it could have been. If you could choose to see another novel take on an alternative version, what would it be and why?

What a very interesting question. Hmm. Well I remember, when I was 17 or so, reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles for the first time, and being so furious with Angel Clare for rejecting Tess that I threw the book across the room. What double standards!  So I’d quite like to read a version of Tess in which Angel forgives her instead - but then I suppose it would be a much shorter, and less tragic, novel. 


Tickets are still available to Laura Barnett's 'The Versions of Us' at 1.30pm on Saturday 26th September. To book, please call the box office on 01988 403222. Tickets £6.