Debbi Voisey is the author of Only About Love a Fairlight Moderns novella publishing on 5th August 2021. This novella tells the story of Frank through snapshots in time as he navigates courtship, marriage, fatherhood and illness. Read this interview to find out what inspired this novella.
How did you start writing and what does writing mean to you?
I’ve always loved writing since I was very young, but the flame was really lit in me when I forgot my English homework once at school when I was about 12. My “punishment” was to write about punishment, so I wrote a 12-page story about a young boy in a young offender’s prison. Usually, the teacher ripped up the essays in front of you without even reading them, but he put it in his briefcase, and I like to think he read and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. After that, my next project was writing a fan fiction based on Charlie’s Angels, but we will gloss over that!
Writing is a way of making sense of things for me, and dealing with feelings that would otherwise be repressed, so I suppose it is a form of therapy you don’t have to pay for.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I think once I discovered I enjoyed it, and discovered the writers I enjoyed to read, then it became my ambition.
If you could describe Only About Love in one word what would it be?
Was there a particular part of the story that you found difficult to write?
The penultimate chapter, dealing with the final moments of a life, were particularly hard, because it was written from truth and experience. Again, a great therapy, but nonetheless harrowing and something that will stay with me forever.
Only About Love is written from the perspective of several characters, why did you choose to tell the narrative in this way and did you have a favourite character to write?
I wanted to give as broad a perspective as possible about Frank, the main character whose life is followed, and to do that, you have to know how his actions and choices affect others. I actually enjoyed writing both Frank and Elizabeth, because their story combined is essential, and knowing about their relationship dynamic – and how Frank felt about his children – is crucial to understanding how love is the most important thing despite everything. I also think Elizabeth is a kick ass person and without her stabilising presence, Frank would have self-destructed.
What inspired you to write Only About Love?
When my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and as I watched his decline over about eight years, I found I was writing a lot of flash fictions about him, and about memories I had of him from when I was a child. When I realised I had quite a collection, I knew this meant I had to get this story out – there’s that therapy again!
What do you think makes a good novella?
With many fewer words than a novel, you have to adjust the way you tell your story. Economy with words and description is crucial. But there has to be an image, or images, that you plant in your reader’s mind that will stay with them long after they finish.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned from writing Only About Love?
That we can endure much more than we think. Losing someone so dear is something you never think you can handle, but when it comes to it, you find you can, just by processing those things that make us all human. Writing Only About Love helped me get all those things in line.
What’s your favourite book and who is your favourite author?
Hard to pick a favourite because I like to flow and adapt and am open all the time to finding a new favourite book. My tastes are eclectic and I like to be surprised. The writer who made me realise I really want to make a go of it, is Stephen King. His characters are always so well drawn and I aspire to creating characters as memorable as his.
Do you have a writer’s habit that helps you ‘get in the zone’?
Actually no, but I should! I do write in a journal every day, but find structure hard to build as far as an actual writing habit. Having said that, I run writing workshops, so that forces a little discipline on me!
Do you have a writing schedule?
Again, I should really try! I find it hard to fit writing into a logical schedule, with the paying day job and the workshops etc that I do. I’m more of a sporadic writer, but am trying to change.
Where do you tend to write?
On my sofa in a notebook, and then transfer it to computer at my desk.
What do you hope people take away from reading your book?
I hope people will take away a sense of hope, and that they identify with the emotions of the characters. Essentially, we are all the same, with the same troubles and fears, and I hope my story shows that.
What’s a piece of advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Don’t let lack of “technique” hold you back. Initially, the important thing is to get some words onto a page. Don’t be put off by all the advice out there about how to structure it. That is important, but not quite yet. If you waited until you were good at something, then you’d never do anything. We all have to put up dodgy shelves before we learn how to make them level.
Read more about Only About Love here.
You can find out more about Debbi Voisey here.