William Prendiville‘s debut novella, Atlantic Winds, has been published on 11 July 2019 by Fairlight Books. Originally from Ireland, William and his family relocated to Canada, where this novella is also set. It follows a group of teenagers, their first loves and hardships. We’ve asked William a few questions about his writing and what inspires him.
How did you start writing?
I always liked stories and poems, and started putting them to paper when I could. I also wrote for the school paper in high school. In Paris, I did corporate journalism for a while, which helps with fiction, because you really do have to try hard to keep things vivid.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, at least after I stopped wanting to be a veterinarian.
You’ve work as a journalist and an editor. How does journalism writing differ from fiction writing?
In fiction, you struggle to be more objective. You can’t parody the people or ideas you don’t like. It makes for bad fiction, unless you’re Evelyn Waugh.
If you could describe Atlantic Winds in one word what would it be?
What inspired you to write Atlantic Winds?
A bad break-up.
Is the setting in the novella inspired by any places where you grew up?
Yes, I spent five years as a child in Deer Lake (Newfoundland). The place was a great wonder for me at the time, as a kid. It was a small logging town and my father, after coming over from Ireland with his four kids, was a doctor there. The people were lovely, I’m told, but for me it was the log chute, the snowmobile riding, the huge snowfalls, the deep autumns, the single old cinema that even then was dilapidated, that I loved. But I was kid – you love everything then.
Was there a particular reason you chose to set your novella in the 1970s?
That’s the time I lived there – late 70s, early 80s. Afterwards, we left for the mainland.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned through your writing?
That you’re constantly learning things about yourself through your writing. You need to create characters you might not necessarily like in real life and learn to be compassionate towards them.
What has been the hardest part of Atlantic Winds to write?
Saying good bye to a dear character.
What do you think makes a good novella?
One you can read in one sitting, and that you can read again.
What does writing mean to you?
It’s demanding and can be very rewarding.
What inspires your writing?
What’s your favourite book/author?
I don’t really have one, though I tend to re-read a lot. It’s like talking to an old friend. I recently re-read the Adrian Mole Diaries and a couple of Fitzgerald novels that I loved in my teens. I remembered the plots, but it didn’t matter. The two most exciting recent writers I’ve read have been Elena Ferrante and Michel Houellebecq, it really was exciting reading them, they’re so unlike anything else.
Do you have a writing schedule?
Early morning, if my schedule allows it.
Where do you tend to write?
At my desk.
Do you have a pet peeve when it comes to writing? Something you notice yourself doing or something you pick-up in other’s writing?
Do you have writer’s habit that helps you ‘get in the zone’?
I chew tobacco. It’s a bit like Pavlov’s dog.
Do you feel like you writing style has changed over the years you’ve been writing?
Yes, thank God. Fewer adjectives and (hopefully) adverbs.
What’s a piece of advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Sit down at a regular, allotted time and keep yourself there, whether you write or not. Eventually you’ll write, ‘cos sitting somewhere for say three hours straight without doing anything can be very trying. Then forget about what you write till you sit down again in the same place the next day.
And always read. You never know what you’ll use or what book will lead you where.
It’s like hiking without markers. Sometimes, through all that bramble, you come out onto a place that’s very beautiful.