Bookcase Focus: An Interview with Manon Steffan Ros

Wales Literature Exchange interviewed our Bookcase author Manon Steffan Ros, about her writing and her influences.


What first inspired you to be an author and where do your ideas come from?

I started writing my first novel when I was expecting my first child. I was troubled by the fact that my children would never know my mother, who had died a few years before, and so I wrote her into a story- a fantasy novel for children. She is fourteen in the novel, and funny and brave and cool, as she was in real life.

My ideas come from the minutae of real life- a sentence I've heard on the radio, maybe, or a look exchanged between a couple in the pub.


How would you describe your writing?

I think that all my work is character-driven, and that if a writer and reader is invested in the character, they'll enjoy the story. I try to plant very real characters into situations that are surreal or unexpected.


Which authors have influenced you the most?

The Welsh authors Gareth F. Williams and Irma Chilton, and in English, probably John Wyndham and Kate Atkinson.


In your opinion what are the biggest challenges that writers face today – and do you think these challenges have changed since you started writing?

Well, making a living out of writing is always going to be a tough one- we might as well be honest about that. And the challenge is to write what you want to write, not what you think people want to read. Writing what I could and not what I should is key for me!


What are the hardest and easiest parts of being a writer?

Hardest is doing tax returns, the niggling worry that the work will run dry, and convincing people that writing IS working and that you're not permanently available for coffee just because you're at home. Easiest is all the rest of it- It's the best job in the world. I make up stories for a living! And the privelige of complete strangers giving your work their full attention when they pick up your book- that is quite incredible to me.


Which writer from Wales would you recommend to readers and why?

Tony Bianchi. He had the ability to write in an understated and quiet way which packed the kind of emotional punch that forces you to take long, deep breaths. So many things in everyday life take me back to his novels- the buzz of a housefly, the scent of a launderette. What a gift!


Llyfr Glas Nebo was selected to our 2018 Bookcase, our annual selection of recent Welsh literary works which we recommend for translation.

The novel won the 2018 National Eisteddfod Prose Medal and the 2019 Wales Book of the Year.

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