with Iona Murphy:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Iona: I was an avid reader and I went to the library most weekends with my parents. My favourite book was ‘Frog, Duck, and Rabbit’ by Susanna Gretz. I took it out of the library so many times that they let me keep it! I loved the Puddle Lane series as a child. I read a lot of Enid Blighton—I adored The Faraway Tree. I was also obsessed with Harry Potter and I went to the midnight book launch for The Deathly Hallows. My parents were big influences on my writing—they read me stories every night before bed. Some nights my dad would make up stories; my favourite was Super Baby—a baby who would save the day by solving minor inconveniences!
I started writing for a young age. When I was seven, me and my best friend Hannah sat in the playground and wrote stories whilst people watching! I filled notebook after notebook with stories, one which sticks out to me is a story about twins who had to roll a dice to find out whether they would live with their mum or dad. The twins ended up being split up without contact and had to try to find each other again. I drew out all of the characters and wrote profiles on them. I entered my first story writing competition when I was 11 and I wrote a story about a haunted attic.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Iona: Today my biggest influence is Sylvia Plath. When I read The Bell Jar at seventeen it reignited my desire to be a writer, as it showed me that I could write about mental health rather than keeping it a secret. Plath’s work helped me to see that I didn’t have to be ashamed for struggling with my mental health, and helped me channel my feelings into art. The precision in her writing style and her powerful metaphors inspire me. Every Plath poem and prose has what I call a ‘killer line’—a line which is so powerful it takes your breath away. I always strive to have my own ‘killer line’ in the pieces I write.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?
Iona: I grew up in London, and at six I moved to Hastings. Moving at such a young age influenced my writing as I try to incorporate the rawness I felt having to move and start over again, leaving behind the life I once knew. Living in by the sea in Hastings influenced my writing, as I like to use motifs of waves to signify change and cleansing, as it captures how it felt to leave my life in London and start afresh by the sea.
Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced your work/describe?
Iona: I’ve moved around quite a few times as I’ve been to three different universities! These moves have influenced my writing as each new town gave me new experiences and mark different point in my life. My poem ‘The Eighth Move’ in Re-Side Zine explores every single time I’ve moved house and the new period it marked in my life. I’m currently working on a novel which, among other things, recounts experiences from my trips to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Boston. Travel is important to me as it opens your eyes to the person you are without the pressures of your every day routine. https://www.re-sidezine.com/issue02
Q5: Any pivotal moment in which you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Iona: After I decided I no longer wanted to be a Postman at four years old, I decided I wanted to be a writer because I loved stories. At ‘dress up as your dream job’ day at school, I came as a writer. When I was eleven we had to write practise CVs for our dream job, and again I chose author. I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember, it was never a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Iona: I love creative activities, so even when I’m not writing I like to make some kind of art! I love playing the piano and I find it really relaxing. My main hobbies are jewellery making; I run a charity project called beads4beat where I make bracelets for the UKs leading eating disorder charity Beat. I love making my own earrings—I’ve done some really unique designs like turning lip balm and children’s toys into earrings. If I can find a way to make something into earrings, I will!
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?
Iona: All my published work can be found on my linktree: https://linktr.ee/write_with_iona
I have a piece coming out in The Bitchin’ Kitsch collection All My Relations
Q8: What is a favorite line in one of your poems/writings?
Iona: One of my favourite line I’ve written is from The Fruit Tree: Joy Edition—“The hazy summer day starts to slip from your hands, the sun’s shining but in the distance the heat waves are blurring, you feel it fading but it’s beyond your control”
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Iona: My friends and family who’ve supported me by reading my work and giving me feedback. Their kindness makes me want to continue writing. The people who have loved me unconditionally through difficult periods in my life give me the motivation to turn my life experiences into art