Thursday, August 02, 2012

Tony Hogan Pops By

I first met Kerry Hudson through her blog, Kerry's Window, a few years ago now, I think, bonding through short stories, of course! I am absolutely and utterly thrilled to now be welcoming her here to chat about her brand new and debut novel, the excellent-titled (she even beats my book for title length) Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma. It is a fantastically-voiced, evocative, dark and yet hopeful story of Janie, who talks to us from the moment of her birth, and whom we follow as her mother drags her from one less-than-salubrious Scottish council flat to another, with a succession of highly unsuitable boyfriends, including the eponymous Tony H.

Place and location are very strong in the book, and Kerry herself grew up "in a succession of council estates, caravans and B&Bs", so I decided to ask Kerry my Writing & Place questionnaire:

Tania: Where are you? 

The Turkish wedding dress shop
Kerry: I'm at my window looking over all of Hackney. I live above a Turkish wedding dress shop (yes, those are the dresses) on the top floor and can see all the way across Hackney to the BT Tower.

T: How long have you been there? 

K: Four years in total, broken by six months in Vietnam. So two years were spent up towards the Stoke Newington end which is very liberal and environmentally oriented (lots of yoga mats and organic food) and then the last two years down the Dalston end which is hipster central (think warehouse parties, 90's fashion and Red Stripe). For all that, there's an incredibly diverse community here: Caribbean, African, Turkish, Orthodox Jewish, Kurdish, Hungarian, Cockneys and a fairly big gay community and for the most part we all get along great. I feel so at home here, I truly love it.

T:  What do you write? 

Novels. I write short stories too but I find them far more difficult. I do poetry only when it is someone's birthday and I know they won't mind my rhyming 'cat' with 'mat' in their card. I'm about to start a short screenplay and want to adapt Tony Hogan into a stage play too. Oh, and lists. I am a list obsessive.

T: How do you think where you and where you've been affects what you write about and how you write? 

The view from Kerry's window
Because Tony Hogan... is based on my own upbringing I would say sense of place is hugely important to how I write (and to the book as sense of place is a significant thing Janie and her family lack). Every estate, council flat and B&B that Janie Ryan lived in, I lived in too and I couldn't have written what I did without those places.

Likewise, my second novel, Thirst, is set between my current neighbourhood and Siberia and I travelled across the length of Russia to make sure the Siberia sections were as honest and realistic as possible. Funnily enough, I've travelled fairly extensively elsewhere. I've never written anything exploring those travels but I like to think that one day it'll be time to write my Vietnamese/Parisian/American novel.

Thank you so much, Kerry - good luck with the screenplay and the adaptation into a stage play, I've tried those and they're really fun! To find out more about Kerry, visit her website and I highly recommend you get your hands on her book!

1 comment:

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Great interview, ladies!