Hello Francesca, thanks for chatting. So... you've just turned 30?
Yes, I've just turned 30! A milestone that has thrown up all sorts of angst and excitement!
Did you grow up in London?
I've spent most of my adult life in London, drawn by its vibrancy and creativity, although am getting itchy feet. I'm British, but my mum's dad, my 'Nannu', came from Malta, and that's definitely had a huge influence on my life - everything from holiday destinations, food, attitudes to migration and my love of the sunshine. At the same time dad's side of the family are very English - shepherds and farmers!
But I grew up in Ashford in Kent though, and perhaps its suburban nature influenced me to be more exploratory in terms of what's out there in the world. One of the biggest influences of Ashford on my current writing is that it kick-started me to actually start running writing workshops, rather than just thinking about it. On a visit home I saw a new venture, The Creative Collective, and was excited to see an arts space developing with like-minded and driven people. Growing up I felt that there was nothing on offer and complained a lot. Knowing this space was there pushed me to actually do something about it!
Did you have a love of words growing up?
Not really... although I can't remember not being able to read and write.
But you write a lot now! What subjects?
I've moved through fiction, journals, music reviews, journalism and recently become involved in writing for well-being. I started my blog a few years ago and write about all sorts including music, arts, health, lifestyle, social issues... It's hard, when do you become a 'real writer.' Is it being published, making a full time living from it, or when you actually put pen to paper?
So, is writing your full-time job?
I wish! Sadly writing doesn't pay these days. I did want to go into journalism but without rich parents who could keep me in London whilst I interned for nothing, that's a side gig. My primary profession is insight and marketing.
Tell me about your very first writing engagement.
The Baker Times! Featuring scoops such as 'Father Home From Work Early!' 'Lesser Spotted Sparrow Seen In Garden.'
I started newspapers at school, wrote for the university newspaper, and after, set up blogs and produced zines. So less about fiction and more the journalism side. I've never been able to sustain fictional writing, although do still dream of being an impoverished novelist. As I've grown up the romance of poverty has waned, so now I'd settle for novelist!
What do you most love to write about?
Most of my creative writing seems to involve a lost girl trying to find something. Make of that what you will! I do love interviewing people and reviewing events, as it's an opportunity to be curious and connect with others. I absorb words and will often scribble down phrases that resonate and find them in my writing later down the line.
Do you have a particular writing location?
I love the library or a coffee shop, somewhere away from distractions. It feels good to commit to having a set time to focus and write, otherwise I find that the Internet and cups of tea distract me!
What are your plans for the future?
I really don’t write enough, so have committed to writing something every day, even just a sentence. I love making ‘zines, and have produced some with a friend that used songs as prompts, so am currently pondering another project of some kind.
Name your THREE most favourite books and why?
Sorry, I can’t! Malory Towers by Enid Blyton was the series I absorbed myself in and fell completely in love with as a little girl. I even packed a suitcase and begged to go to boarding school, convinced it would be all lashings of ginger beer, midnight feast, and hockey sticks! I don’t know about a specific book, but Virginia Woolf’s writing is so deep and visceral, and I love how she evokes meaning and emotion in every single word. Her prose is dense, and tough going, but also very direct and potent. And then I don’t know…some books I’ve loved over the last few years include DH Lawrence; Sons & Lovers, Linda Grant’s We Had It So Good, The Secrets They Kept by Joanne Tombrakos, Michael Christie’s If I Fall, If I Die, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and Jane Austen’s work.
Lastly... what does writing MEAN to you?
Creativity, curiosity, connection and communication. The values that stir me and enliven me and that I try to practice in every aspect of my life. Without a pen and paper I feel completely lost.
Thanks so much Francecsa, and thank you for your wonderful contributions to HAPPY. Don't stop writing!
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