Lisa McInerney’s work has featured in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, Granta and BBC Radio 4 and in the anthologies Beyond The Centre (New Island), The Long Gaze Back (New Island) and Town and Country (Faber). Her debut novel The Glorious Heresies won the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the 2016 Desmond Elliott Prize. In 2015 she received an Arts Council bursary for her second novel, The Blood Miracles, which was published by John Murray in April 2017.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing The Blood Miracles?
I think the biggest challenge for any writer is carving out the time and head-space you need in order to produce your best work. It was exactly that writing The Blood Miracles. The story was there, the characters were there, the themes were suggesting themselves – it was a matter of making time and space to bring all of these things together. And of course, it’s very difficult for any writer to be able to shut down what’s going on in the real world long enough to develop one in parallel.
How would you describe your daily writing routine?
On days when I write – and I don’t write every day – I will get to the desk by late morning. Once I’m there I’ll work until I get a thousand words down, which might only take a few hours, or the rest of the day. I can worry about editing them at a later time, because they will definitely need editing! I play instrumental music while I work – usually a soundtrack. And I play a lot of Solitaire and Mahjong on my computer, and do a lot of staring out the window, waiting for the words to come.
What has receiving a bursary award meant to you as a writer/for your writing career?
We write because we can’t not write, I think, so there’s that compulsion on top of all of the other demands on our time and energy, which can be maddeningly stressful. For me the bursary award was massively important because it relieved some financial pressure. It was a very practical lifeline! It gave me the capacity to focus on the novel for a few months.
What is the best piece of advice you received as an emerging writer?
I think it was probably to trust my natural style. For a while I thought that literature should be quite serious, and the stuff I was writing was grim without any humour to liven it up. Whereas I usually revelled in black humour. Once I relaxed and started incorporating that very brilliant Irish gallows humour to my work, it improved immensely! That said, I’m usually reticent about recommending the advice I made use of to emerging writers, because what works for one of us won’t necessary work for the next. I got a lot of useless advice too.
What book/author has influenced your writing the most?
There have been two. Melvin Burgess, as a teenager. Junk changed everything I thought I knew about writing; here was a brilliant novel that fearlessly explored everyday horrors and changed POVs, narrative voice and tone as the story demanded. It felt like it broke all the rules and I was utterly captivated. And then, as an adult, I graduated to Hubert Selby Jr, whose empathy for even the most depraved or doomed characters remains a revelation.