Wales Literature Exchange interviewed our Bookcase author Rhiannon Ifans, about her writing and her influences.
1. What first inspired you to be an author and where do your ideas come from?
Human life. The Brexit question raging, I started writing about Europe, in particular about Germany. I set my thoughts on dementia, also raging throughout our society, into a story set in Stuttgart and kept on writing. Ingrid is what emerged. It is essentially about a supremely joyous person’s progressive mental illness, and although it sounds impossibly grim, I hope this fundamentally sad story is a buoyant one, funny even (in parts), and uplifting.
2. How would you describe your writing?
No glass ornaments, just hard work.
3. Which authors have influenced you the most?
T. H. Parry-Williams, Emyr Humphreys, Colm Tóibín, Anita Brookner, Wallace Stegner, Alice Munro.
4. In your opinion what are the biggest challenges that writers face today – and do you think these challenges have changed since you started writing?
Time: an appropriate length of time for armchair reflection, further time for desk-based structuring and writing, and yet more time for the editorial process. Time, however, is money. More public money might also be invested in creating a greater number of astute editors.
5. What are the hardest and easiest parts of being a writer?
Hardest: Self-doubt and stalling. Easiest: Cut, cut, cut.
6. Which writer from Wales would you recommend to readers and why?
Emyr Humphreys for his poetry, essays and novels, particularly Outside the House of Baal, ‘the greatest novel of anglophone Welsh literature’ (M. Wynn Thomas); and poet, playwright and novelist Owen Sheers for his portrayal of male grief and guilt in I Saw a Man. Compelling reading.
Ingrid was selected to the Wales Literature Exchange 2019 Bookcase, our annual selection of recent Welsh literary works which we recommend for translation.