An interview with Gwen Sayers, Hysteria 2015 finalist

This weeks interview is with Gwen Sayers, originally from South Africa. She worked in Seattle and Cape Town as a doctor before finally settling in London. During her medical career she wrote on topics such as ethics, law, and humanities. In 2015 she  completed an MA in creative writing at the University of London.

The Gwen Sayers Interview

gwen sayersWhat is the one thing that no-one would usually know about you?

I have a doppelgänger living in America.

Are the names of your characters important to you?

Hugely. When I write, I try to get inside my character’s mind. I can only do this if my character feels real to me. The name anchors the character to a reality I can tap into. If I believe my character is real, hopefully, so will my reader.

Have you ever wished you could do anything else instead of writing, and if so what?

This worked the other way round for me. I used to be a doctor, longing, most of that time, to express myself creatively. I did so by writing about ethics, humanities, and medical law. When I wasn’t writing, I painted in acrylics and gouache. As a quick fix, I wrote poetry.

Have you ever written naked?

I work in an attic on top of the house. In summer you can poach an egg on the keyboard. I wrote my dissertation topless.

What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?

I wrote a book (badly) five years ago, which I never intend to publish. The challenge I faced, which I couldn’t deal with then, was how to get over myself.

Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?

Just do it!  The more you write, the easier it becomes. When I lived in Seattle, I began jogging so I could fit in with my American counterparts. I got the kit; the shorts, tank top, cotton socks, Reeboks, did the stretching thing, set off, and limped home breathless after one block. Three months later I was running five miles a day before breakfast.

How do you remain sane while working?

It’s the only time I am sane.

What is the book that you wished you had written?

Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson.

Are there any habits you wish you didn’t have?

Loads of them, writing is the worst. I wake in the middle of the night with words struggling to get out. Feeling my way up the stairs in the dark, I find the attic, wake my computer, and release my characters onto a page to see what they’ll get up to. I stop after about 400 words to indulge another habit, my penchant for computer games, a way of refreshing my brain (or so I say). And let’s not talk about chocolate.

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hysteria 4WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT Gwen AND HYSTERIA 4?

You can find Gwen in the Hysteria 4 anthology which supports the Hysterectomy Association.

Hysteria 4 is the anthology of winning stories,poetry and flash fiction from the 2015 Hysteria Writing Competition.

You can also meet Gwen on her website: gwensayers.com/

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WHY ‘THE THURSDAY THRONG’?

These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.

I'm always interested in what people think and love having a debate so why don't we have a chat :-)

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