Carol was born in Warwickshire, educated at the equivalent of ‘St Trinians’ and after that picked it up as she went along. She has worked in retail, nursing, as a freelance journalist, a counsellor and in several other part-time occupations. She is retired and now works full-time as a writer.
Welcome Carol. First up, please tell us about your connection to Wales.
Wales has been my adopted home since 1979. My mother came from Northern Ireland and my father was Anglo-Irish. I describe myself as having Irish blood and a Welsh heart. You and I met recently, Christoph, at Tenby Book Fair when the splendid Judith Barrow introduced us.
Oh yes, I remember that day very fondly. 🙂 Please tell us a little about yourself as writer.
Like most writers, writing has been what I’ve done all my life. The metaphorical drawers are filled with terrible novels and alarming poetry. My most oft quoted remark when asked this question is that I have ‘suffered from arrested development for far too long.’ It wasn’t until my late fifties that I decided to get a grip and begin writing fiction with a serious view to publication. I wrote and self-published a novel in 2008. I still love the story but as a physical book I know it is flawed.
Being inspired to write ‘Ghostbird’ was a massive turning point for me. Falling under the professional wing of my editor, Janet Thomas at Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press, was the beginning of the most rewarding period of my writing life.
Why did you decide to write in your chosen genre?
It chose me. I have never been keen on the concept of genre and have struggled with placing my own stories. I write about real life with a hint of magic along the edges. Because it was suggested several years ago that I wrote ‘magical realism’ I acquiesced. As I wrote ‘Ghostbird’ – which will be published by Honno in March 2016 – I discovered I was in fact writing a ghost story and decided the genre sat relatively well with me. For all I know, I’m writing my own versions of the fairytale. Genre can be subjective. Magical realism, the ghost story and the fairytale ask only that the reader suspend disbelief. Each explores elements of wondrous change. I like Matt Haig’s definition best. In his terrific book, The Humans, he says, “There is only one genre in fiction. The genre is called ‘book.’”
Tell us about the concept behind your book.
As a writer it is impossible to live in Wales and not be inspired by its landscape and legends. When I first read The Mabinogion and discovered The Myth of Blodeuwedd I was struck by the notion that to be turned into a bird was considered a curse. I’ve long had an affinity with birds and when I was a little girl, wanted be one. In my world, it’s the ultimate freedom. And thus the seed of ‘Ghostbird’ was sown. It’s also my attempt to reclaim Blodeuwedd as a strong woman. I’m partial to a feminist issue!
What is your life like outside of writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m reading. I also love to swim and go to my local pool twice a week. I walk a good deal and every Wednesday I attend the smallest writing group in Wales with my good friend Janey Stevens (who took the very flattering photograph of me!)
Which Welsh person would you like to invite for dinner and what would you serve?
Cerys Matthews. I’d be too star-struck to eat mind! I love her music and over the years have watched her mature into not only an accomplished solo performer but an intelligent, knowledgeable purveyor of all things musical, poetic and deliciously creative. She is a splendid DJ, interviewer and narrator; a superb ambassador for Wales.
Who is your favourite Welsh author?
It would be disrespectful not to put Dylan Thomas at the top of the list. The man was a genius. I have a little ritual I enact every Christmas Eve: I read, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, out loud, to myself. I’m also an admirer of Alice Thomas Ellis. Her novel, Fairy Tale was given to me in 1997 and within its pages I discovered the Tylwyth Teg – the Welsh version of the Fae Folk – and learned to take them very seriously indeed.
What is the best thing about Wales?
What are you working on now?
My second book is a completed first draft. It’s another mixture of magic, mystery, birds, secrets (plus a rather curmudgeonly old woman…) I have a third book outlined and this one is most definitely another ghost story.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
Mine are mostly ‘best’ aspects. Coming this late to publication and being validated as an author is a joy I never expected to experience. Affirmation has opened my creative heart and I have no time to waste! If there is a ‘worst’ aspect, it’s when life gets in the way of the writing.
Carol blogs at: https://carollovekinauthor.wordpress.com/
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/Carol-Lovekin-1006022299431923/timeline/?notif_t=page_new_likes