Author Interview – Kit de Waal – My Name Is Leon

Hello there everyone.

I’m extremely happy to inform you all that we have yet another superbly talented guest for the Author Interview Series tonight.

May I present to you all author Kit de Waal who has written an International Bestseller and in addition to this has garnered a ton of positive editorial reviews. She is quite simply a wonderful inspiration to women and to writers everywhere and I can’t wait for you to spend some time with her to savour her captivating words and stories.

Enjoy the interview and have a great evening.

 

Hi there Kit, thank you for sharing your valuable time to chat with us here today, we can’t wait to get to know more about you and your irresistible writing.

Let’s start with your debut novel “My Name Is Leon”, which is garnering glowing reviews. I understand that it is a story about love, heartbreak, finding your identity, nostalgia for the eighties and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Please tell us more about the events in your life that inspired and compelled you to write this story, along with why Leon is such an endearing and vulnerable character that everyone is rooting for as soon as we get stuck into your book.

I’ve worked in adoption for a number of years and also spent many years working in criminal law. I saw the damaging effects of the care system and how it can affect people many years after they have left it. I also saw how good people – foster carers and social workers – struggled to make it work for children but often the system itself was against them. Leon first appeared as an older character in a thriller I was writing, but he wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d told the story of what happened to him as a boy.

I think my background has enabled me to be understanding, sympathetic and fair to some characters that would be described as ‘damaged’ or ‘difficult’. I have seen how the effects of a hard life or of abuse have shaped people into who they are and how everyone has a story, a background a context for who they are, so the characters in My Name is Leon reflect my belief that good people can do bad things, that there is an inherent good in most people and that people are always trying to find peace and happiness. So I hope that not only Leon comes across as endearing and vulnerable, but also his mother Carol and the other adults in his life.

(Listen to an excerpt from MY NAME IS LEON by Kit de Waal, read by Lenny Henry)

What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?

The best and easiest thing has to be the real and true fact that daydreaming is actually good for your job. Staring out of a window on a rainy, February afternoon with a cup of tea in your dressing gown, is actually writing or beginning to write. The most difficult thing about writing is the fact that whole weeks disappear while you’re staring out of the window in your dressing gown. If it wasn’t for having to feed the children occasionally, I might never move from that window.

Who are some of the authors in general that inspire you?

I’m ashamed to say that I used to read a lot of men. In my defence it was because I spent several years reading only the Classics to make up for a lack of interest in them when I was younger and as we all know the Classics are dominated by men. So I love Graham Green, Guy de Maupassant, Isaac Bashavis Singer, Arnold Bennett and Patrick Hamilton. I now read widely and steer myself whenever possible to women to balance the books. I love Annie Proulx, Zadie Smith and Jane Gardem.

All of these writers (with the possible exception of Graham Green) are particularly interested in little stages, small domestic dramas and the minutiae of life. They could construct a whole chapter around the closing of a door. I love that sort of thing. Cormac McCarthy and Kevin Barry are also contemporary writers who I read a lot and who I always think ‘How have they done that?’

What sort of research did you do to write your book? What did you to do to reacquaint yourself with the sights, sounds and smells of the eighties?

Leon’s world is very familiar to me so it was more a question of scene choice rather than research. I did have to look up the name of a runner bean on Wikipedia! I particularly wanted to write what I know and about a time that I knew well. I wrote the entire book in about a year because I could remember it all so well.

kitdewaalmynameisleon

Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?

I am always, always inspired by ordinary people. There are in fact, no ordinary people. Absolutely everyone has something unique to them, some heart break, secret, special skill, yearning, great joy, some desperation. I often watch people walk past and think about where they are going and what they’re thinking. What happened to them last week that maybe changed the course of their life? What will happen tomorrow?

I came to writing later in life, when I had come to the point when I wanted to try something new. I had never been ambitious really but as soon as I started writing I realised I had found the thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?

I think I’m lucky in that I don’t suffer much from Writer’s Block. Ideas are never the problem, it’s finding the time to work on them all! Reading and daydreaming can always fill any potential slumps before they get the chance to take hold.

How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?

I love knitting and golf. They both help me to relax. Also tennis, but watching more than playing!

mynameisleoncurlywurly

You have been given access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t worry, it’s all going to work out. Enjoy it more.

Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?

The paperback of My Name is Leon is coming out in January and I’ve almost finished my second novel. I’m also planning on writing a short story collection and a novella…Then another novel…I have so many plans and so little time!

Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?

For every hour that you write, spend two hours reading. There is so much good stuff out there. There is always something to learn. Find a book you love, even one you have read a few times and unpick it. Take it apart and find out how the writer did the thing that moves you. Break it down chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence. ind the mechanisms and devices – they will be there – and see if you can imitate them or write your own versions. Those things are the stuff of craft and every artist has to know their craft. Every artist, carpenter, painter, chef, practices and practices as an apprentice, learning from the master and then one day they start on their own creations wielding the tools of the craft.

The best nugget of wisdom I’ve heard although it wasn’t said to me directly was ‘Turn up.’ What that means is sit and down and write rather than talking about writing or reading about writing or plotting on index cards, researching, reorganising your desk. Actually, as writers we have to turn up at our desk and write. That’s the only way you finish your work.

And that’s a wrap! It has been a real pleasure Kit and we appreciate you time, sound advice and sincerely look forward to enjoying more of your work 🙂

Bio:-

kitdewaalprofilepic

Kit de Waal writes about forgotten and overlooked places where the best stories are found. Her debut novel, My Name is Leon, a heart-breaking story of love, identity, and learning to overcome unbearable loss, is a Times bestseller. Kit was born in Birmingham to an Irish Mother and Kittian father, and worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law. She was a magistrate and used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, as well as writing training manuals on adoption and foster care. Her prize-winning flash fiction and short stories appear in various anthologies. She won the Readers’ Prize at the Leeds Literary Prize 2014, and the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction in 2014 and again in 2015. In 2016, she founded the Kit de Waal Scholarship at Birkbeck University, a creative writing scholarship specially designed for budding writers who would not otherwise be able to afford a Master’s degree.

Connect with Kit on the following Social Media channels:-

Facebook:- Kit de Waal – Author (FB)
Pinterest:- Kit de Waal – Author (Pinterest)
Twitter:- Kit de Waal – Author (Twitter)
Website:- The Website of Kit de Waal

You can buy her book here:-

Buy My Name is Leon in Canada

Buy My Name is Leon in UK/Europe

Buy My Name is Leon in the US/Rest of the World

Still want more? Well, over at The Daily Post there is a prompt theme called ‘Generation’ and Kit’s book is looking back to the eighties generation. For more articles on this particular theme then check out the links below:-

1. “Generational divide” – Nomadic Adventurer
2. Tales of Virginia – Tales of Men – Is Our Humanity Endangered?
3. Family Heirloom – bookyglover
4. The VW Beetle Bug: A Beloved Car – Classic Cars of Palm Beach
5. Green – Sithu’s
6. A Momma’s View – Moral Compass And The Next Generation
7. Chase’s Thoughts And Viewpoints – My Generation, Your Generation; What Difference Does It Make?
8. kwesi – Generation
9. Poem: Tankas – “The Killer” – Mandibelle16
10. Silencing. – blossomsworld
11. Comet – A traveller’s setback
12. Radically Distinctive – Generation
13. kindergartenknowledge.com – The Gym Dandy Generation
14. The Daily Post – Progressing into Solitude – Generation Survival
15. Sacrificial Chain Breaker – GENERATION
16. A Generation Filled with Addicts – Vivid Dreamer
17. The Awesome Source – On Legacy Characters in Comic Books
18. Martha L Shaw – A SIMPLE LIFE CHANGER
19. Suddenly Single… Minded – Tom Hanks – I’ve got a crush on you – be my hologram
20. I’m Only Half A Digital Native – Alex Clark-McGlenn
21. Surviving the generations – lifehomeandaway
22. Next Generation Blog – This Pilgrim’s Progress
23. Gaping Gap – The Chaos Within
24. coldhandswarmheartsblog – Generation
25. Purposive Writer – Generation X in the Philippines: What Millennials Should Know About Them
26. What Doth The Earth Conceal From Us? – The Temenos Journal
27. The Light Breaks Through – From Old To New
28. GENERATIONS OF ROYAL BLOOD – soul n spirit
29. sandandelion – hot seat
30. Le Drake Noir – Chicken feather
31. gudtowrite – A daring feat!
32. Generation Take III – Image & Word
33. The Rain and Sunshine Blog – New Generation
34. Giggles & Tales – Generation – The Daily Prompt!
35. Do you date or hook up? – SnoSouthernLife
36. Pen Pals… – Filling in the gap
37. Life Goes On…. – atrangizindagieksafar
38. We are at the watershed moment – The Eco-Intelligent Dream
39. Unpredictable Life – Generation
40. Mr. Johnson’s Blog – Generational Changes
41. Fluffy Pool – My Generation, Baby
42. Generation – It’s time to Smile Again
43. Princess Journey – Let’s get social
44. Being A Millennial – Thoughts Do Count
45. What Makes her: “Sexy Grandma”? – Just SHAVE your LEGS!
46. The New 3 Rs: Retire, Recharge, Reconnect – Generation
47. A Photo & Five: Promontory Summit and the Joining of the Transcontinental Railroad – imyesterdaysgirl
48. Millennials Rise – Mac’s World
49. Generations in change – blogbyourlife
50. Generation is – toriskarma
51. Fishing..; More! – Pebbles
52. Story Time – It’s An All Ages Event – along the side of the road
53. A Day In The Life – Generation
54. Family Tales from Gail – Generation after Generation
55. lovelyenergy – Generation and Time
56. Jacki Kellum Juxtapositions: Read My Mind – I Grew Up in the Hippie Era but I Wasn’t Really Hip!
57. Is Mine The Last Generation? – The Beautiful Rebellion
58. Generation ~ perfect setting for a happy being – sabaonline
59. Cancer Healed by Jesus. Angela McCauley – I will Tell of God’s Healing Power to the Next Generation.
60. Echoes of Freedom…. – PTSD – The Long Journey Home
61. Maid’s Day Off – If you could tell your own story…
62. Tunnel vision – Willow’s Corner
63. sandmanjazz – Shut that Door
64. Generation Take II – Image & Word
65. Anonymous in Cali – years
66. Flight lesson for the next generation – 1kayaker
67. The Light Breaks Through – A New Front Door To Millennials
68. Eighth Gradeitis – My Crazy Graced Life
69. kStan(ly) kSays – (but we are not degenerates)
70. Lowland – Generation
71. Faith Unlocked – Generations Share
72. Jennifer Terry – Generations
73. charlesewaugh – Generational Disparity
74. A Joy of Health Nutrition and Beauty – Generations in my Clinic
75. Freya Writes… – Remnants – dVerse Poetics / WordPress Daily Prompt
76. Generation – Image & Word
77. The Self-Made Loser – Make Your Own Destiny
78. Pepper Connection – Eye Trouble
79. So many Generations – wordsareallihavesite
80. It’s Like Looking In A Mirror Sometimes… – Oh My GAD
81. Generational grammar – Bitácora de aprendizaje
82. theworldplusme – Generation
83. “Invasive” Species – Mourning the Broken Balance
84. Travel Much? – The world’s Longest Cream Puffs Recipe
85. Jack of All Trades, Master of None – My Generation
86. Doing the right thing has a cost – ramblings of the day
87. Bob’s Blog – Daily Prompt – Generation
88. pinkish reflections – Daily Prompt Challenge: Generation
89. The Influence of Generations – THE SKYS THE LIMIT
90. Ahmeli – Generation Rewind
91. Hot Dogs and Marmalade – Family Resemblance
92. Generation – Legacy- Love – A Beginner ´s Blogger Diary
93. Evolution of Telephones – writealineblog
94. Sprawly – DP- Generation
95. Creepy Reflections – Possession
96. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Truth
97. KnowITall? – Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation
98. Generation Y – Welcome To Gen Y
99. Beans to Be – StrangeLander2015
100. Writer Sanctuary – Can Blogging Really Help You Make Money?
101. Generation – Short Stories
102. An Upturned Soul – Chiron opposition Pluto – When Old Wounds Resurface
103. SERENDIPITY – WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND THEY ARE US
104. 83 Unsung Heroes – Learnings From Each Generation
105. The Gad About Town – Generation X?
106. What Do You Have Planned For Today? – A lot from Lydia
107. Prompt for the Day: “Generation” – Saint P. Blogging
108. The Reluctant Scribbler – Generation
109. Crossing Colorado – Why It’s Important to Be Fit for the Kids
110. Emotional Fitness – SIX TIPS TO MAKE THE WORLD BETTER FOR YOUR GRANDCHILDREN
111. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: Feline Generation
112. Generation – Thirty by Thirty
113. THE MILLENIAL GENERATION – curiousitygotmecom
114. Richa Sharma – Generation Gap
115. Apparently I’m Funny – Generation Is A Bad Word…
116. Dad music – Geek Ergo Sum
117. blendedlifestyleblog – The Generation I Generated
118. Un blog random – 11.05.2016: Generacion
119. Your Nibbled News (c) 2016 – Now generation highly inquisitive
120. the purple spiral – Generation: Response
121. La Tour Abolie – Once apron a time
122. Hope* the happy hugger – Generation
123. Talkin’ ’bout — Speak up, Sonny! – I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
124. Look to the Birds – Redhead Reflections
125. The Generation of the Tooth Fairy – Just Because…
126. A Generation Lost In Face – happily hippie
127. Daily Blogging Prompt: GENERATION – The Blog of Maggie
128. Flowers and Breezes – Three Generations
129. Life with Jess – Big Gaps
130. The happy Quitter! – The Generation Gap I do not want
131. Generation – Daily Prompt – ladyleemanila
132. Tree’s Story – Fib Poetry – The Piscean me
133. Influence In Our Generation – Lance Price Blog 2016
134. Techno-Logical Generation – Hershey’s World
135. Random Brain Musings – The Best
136. a cooking pot and twistedtales – A gap too wide to bridge…
137. To Wear A Rainbow – our generation…haiku
138. Coloring Outside the Lines – Generation
139. Generational left turns ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
140. Zombie Flamingos – A selection of plants and kitties
141. Generation “Kids These Days” – Its Just Life
142. Maa… – A Chaotic Calm!
143. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Generation
144. Generation Gap – ThoughtsnLifeBlog
145. Generation – The new-ness
146. Version #9: A micro-ode to journeling – Wind Rush
147. Generation – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
148. Designer Sophisticate – What the HELL are they saying?!
149. the15thday – talking about my generation*
150. Hair Care down the Generations – Hershey’s World
151. Grandma Alice – whippetwisdom.com
152. Midwest Maven – Postaday: Generations
153. A Sunken Thought – Oh Boy…
154. The Mythical Truth – NJSays
155. Perfection Addict – Glimpse of the Future Generation
156. Hot White Snow – The Invisible Fall
157. shame – Twenty-seven year bore
158. Musings in the Middle… – Generations
159. PenVille – My 6-year-old niece’s first email
160. From One To The Next – Blog of Hammad Rais

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