Author Interview #4: Jane Talbot

My fourth Friday interview is with a champion of raising awareness of female authors in Northern Ireland, Jane Talbot.

Jane Talbot Women Aloud NI 2016Jane Talbot is a writer and storyteller based in County Antrim. Promoting storytelling and reading aloud as important means of human connection, she creates written narratives that follow conventions associated with the oral tradition and that are designed for reading both ‘in your head’ and out loud. Jane’s first book, The Faerie Thorn and Other Stories [Blackstaff Press, 2015], is a collection of seven dark faerie tales set in Northern Ireland’s beautiful North Coast area. You can visit Jane’s website here. When Jane is not writing, she runs a coaching and training business.

1) How long have you been writing for, and why did you start?the faerie thorn

I started writing on 8 July 2014. On 1 January 2014 I started a year-long project called ‘The 365 Days of Adventure’. The plan was to have a mini-adventure every single day for a whole year. On 6 July 2014 I went on a faerie hunting adventure, camping out near a lone hawthorn tree on our farm. Although I followed the standard protocols in full, I did not see any faeries. However, after my dawn visit to the tree, I fell asleep and when I woke up I had a complete story in my head : The Faerie Thorn. I wrote it down and that was that!

Although I hadn’t really written much before, I have been an oral storyteller for a very long time. I write as I would normally tell ‘aloud’, so it was a relatively small leap for me.

2) Out of everything you have written, what is your favourite piece and why?

My favourite piece is a short story called ‘The Terrible Tale of Fillan McQuillan’. It’s one of the stories in my short story collection, ‘The Faerie Thorn and Other Stories.’ It’s my favourite because the baddie in the story is just so bad! He was great fun to write and he gave me a lot of chuckles. He lived in my head long after the story was finished: I was quite sad when he ‘packed up and moved out’.

3) Which author is your biggest inspiration?

I’ve a huge admiration for writers who use language in new ways: Roald Dahl is one of my favourite authors, and Russell Hoban’s ‘Riddley Walker’ is, from a linguistic point of view, astonishing. As a child I enjoyed Ursula K Le Guin, Alan Garner and Joan Aiken [The Kingdom Under the Sea and Other Stories] – and anything Grimm-ish or Andersen-ish, of course. I still immerse myself in faerie tales, folk tales, myths and legends on a regular basis [it keeps the faerie in me well fed].

women aloud logo4) You also founded the group Women Aloud NI, can you tell us more about it?

I set up this initiative in December 2015 to raise the profile of the women’s writing scene in Northern Ireland. On International Women’s Day, 8 March 2016, Women Aloud NI 2016 happened: 130 women writers took part in 17 events! We read, and talked about, our work in theatres, bookshops, arts centres, pubs and libraries across the country. Thanks to a group of dedicated coordinators and to all the women writers who took part, Women Aloud NI 2016 was a great success. We’re already looking forward to Women Aloud NI 2017.

5) What are your plans for the future? Are any more books in the pipeline?

The exciting news is that The Faerie Thorn and Other Stories is being adapted for the stage and the production will be touring the UK and Ireland in April/May 2017. As for writing, I have a lovely project that I’m going to be working on from November onward. It’s an ambitious retelling of a little-known Hiberno-Scottish legend.

If you are an author interested in being interviewed, please contact me.

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