with Clare O’Brien
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Clare: As a student studing English Literature at uni, although for a long time I don’t think anything I wrote was any good. My first literary influence as a child was Alan Garner, and later as a teenager, Ted Hughes, the Brontes and Thomas Hardy.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Clare: Probably my favourite novelist is Hilary Mantel. I don’t write like her: I just love how her mind works and her prose is exquisite. I admire David Mitchell, the sheer breadth and ambition of his work. I love the folk horror genre, which is closer in content to what I write, so Jess Richards, Zoe Gilbert, Daisy Johnson. In poetry, work which speaks of the natural world in varying ways, either literally or figuratively. Hughes, Keats, R.S. Thomas, Seamus Heaney, John Clare, Wendell Berry, Ricky Ray, Robin Robertson, Rosie Garland.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influenced your work?
Clare: I grew up in a boring south London suburb. About the only poem I’ve written that came out of that was my eulogy for David Bowie, ‘Station To Station’. I’ve lived in the far north of Scotland for 22 years now, and that’s had a far more profound effect. The grandeur and the age of the landscape, what it conceals.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Clare: I’ve recently competed a chapbook I really like, called ‘Huginn & Muninn’, named after Odin’s ravens. I also wrote a whole cycle of poems after the death of my friend, the American singer and songwriter Chris Cornell. I felt his loss keenly.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Clare: Not really: I grew into it gradually. A lot of it had to do with increasing confidence as I got older.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Clare: Gardening, always. I grow all our family’s vegetables and it’s probably when I’m at my most innocently happy.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Clare: My website (with publication credits) is here: http://clarevobrien.weebly.com/
And here are three poems which give you a good taste of the kind of poetry I write: https://lunate.co.uk/poetry/three-poems-by-clare-obrien
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
“Barrel rolling through currents and tides, you ventured too close to the edge of the world.”
From “Lost In Translation”, which I wrote about a huge jellyfish I found washed up on our beach.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Clare: Probably my husband Alasdair, who’s a musician. Writing lyrics for his songs gave me more confidence in my own voice and led to my moving into standalone poetry worthy of publication.