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Bookcase Focus: An interview with Cynan Jones
Wales Literature Exchange interviewed our Bookcase author Cynan Jones ahead of his journey to the Guadalajara Book Fair, Mexico to launch Carlos Milla and Isabel Ferrer's Spanish translation of The Dig.
What first inspired you to become a writer, and where do your ideas come from?
Reading made me write. I find it hard to really enjoy something and not try to do that thing myself. (I love to eat, so I learn to cook). The transport of reading had such momentum it carried me with it into writing.
Ideas come from everywhere. Only some ideas suit being written down. And only some of those that can suit the short novel form. So there’s a filter in that. But if you live where I do, it’s impossible not to be battered with ideas all the time.
How would you describe your writing?
The first task of a writer is to learn to write. When you can, you then have a choice as to how to write. I try to write what isn’t there. Sometimes I want to read a particular sort of book but it doesn’t exist. It then becomes my task to write it. Given what I’ve written about so far, the writing itself is direct, visual and physical.
Which authors have influenced you the most?
Everything you read influences you. I can’t say I have been influenced by a particular writer as such. The story you choose to tell dictates the approach, and that becomes a two-way thing once you have success. It’s in retrospect, when you have written, that other authors help, more by the company they provide.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that writers face today - and do you think these challenges have changed since you started writing?
I would guess writers have always faced the same fundamental challenge: creating time to write. The difficulty of writing well, being published, being paid are all secondary to that. While I’m uncompromising with my time when it actually comes to writing a book down, it’s still difficult to make the two or three months of space I need for that. With increased success comes increased requirement to be available and while that is a great problem to have, it isn’t conducive to writing the way I go about it.
What are the hardest and easiest parts of being a writer?
The hardest part of being a writer is actually writing. The easiest part of being a writer is actually writing.
Which writersfrom Wales would you recommend to readers, and why?
There are some great contemporary Welsh writers with diverse ability and style. I’d suggest reading Seren’s New Stories From the Mabinogion, and Wales Arts Review’s Fiction Map of Wales for a glimpse at that range.