Miriam Hastings is a novelist and short story writer. She has published fiction, poetry, literary reviews and articles, and essays on mental health. In her work, Miriam is most concerned with portraying the experience of the outsider in society; giving a voice to the powerless and oppressed.
She is disabled and can only write using voice recognition software or a dictaphone – this often makes life as an author quite a challenge! She lives in East London, an area that she loves. She works from home as a writer and tutor, and leads workshops in creative writing for personal development.
Her first novel, The Minotaur Hunt, was published by the Harvester Press; it was shortlisted for the Betty Trask award and won the MIND Book of the Year award. A revised edition with a new epilogue has been independently published in paperback and as an ebook. Her collection of short stories, Demon Lovers, was shortlisted for the Scott award in 2010. It remains unpublished, although three stories from that collection are available as an e-pamphlet, titled The Doll and other stories: Strange Tales. As M W Hastings, she has independently published a historical novel, Walking Shadow, through FeedARead Publishing.
Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?
A: I would love to meet Emily Brontë. She was such an independent thinker; I admire her integrity – she was so self-sufficient, she never tried to please other people but was always true to herself. While she had no time for high society and people who were false and artificial, she never judged people because they were different, poor or outcast. I don’t think she would be an easy person to get to know or even a pleasant person to meet, but she fascinates me. I wish I could be more like her.
Q: What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you as a child?
A: I was very ill when I was five – I had to spend most of the year off school and a lot of it in bed. When she had time, my mother would read to me but it was for frustratingly short periods. The first book I remember reading to myself was The Borrowers by Mary Norton, picking it up when my mother had stopped in the middle of a chapter and carrying on from there. I loved the idea of living a secret life hidden from the rest of the world. I already knew by that age that big people weren’t to be trusted!
Q: Do you have a lucky writing talisman? If so, what is it?
A: A mug with a mermaid hand-painted on it, given to me by my close writer friend Mimi Khalvati. I am very superstitious about this mug and I’m terrified of it being broken.
The mermaid was gone from the icehouse and the Dowager declared the tenants had all been lying, or else their minds had been touched by the cold and too much whisky. Being their only gentle-born witness, I was summoned to the Bighouse to defend their tale. My father was angry; he couldn’t say so openly, …