Write side: Emily Barr on finding inspiration in the Arctic
Emily Barr on lost memories, finding inspiration in the Arctic and blasting out her novel in a bed and breakfast.
Tell us about your young adult novel The One Memory of Flora Banks
It's about a teenage girl who can only remember things up until the age of 10. She can't form any short-term memories after that. She has this momentous event on a beach when she kisses a boy, her friend's ex-boyfriend, and she remembers it.
How did you come to set part of it in the Arctic?
I woke up one day and I wanted to write a story set near the North Pole in the midnight sun. I went to Svalbard on my own for a week and wandered around in the snow at three in the morning. It was mind-blowing.
Did you really write it in a bed and breakfast in Torquay? That sounds a bit like Fawlty Towers
Yes, I always do that when I have to finish the book. I write better if I am in a bit of a panic over the deadline. I get away somewhere to blast it out. I also do a bit of café-hopping.
Can you work at home?
Usually I sit at the kitchen table. We do have a room with a desk in it, but I never sit at it.
Are you the first writer in the family?
My dad is a retired lecturer in film studies. I used to lie in bed as a child listening to the clatter of his typewriter. He wrote books about Alfred Hitchcock and Ealing Studios. It made me think that writing a book was something you could do.
If you weren't a novelist what would you be?
My first job was working in a posh art gallery, then as a journalist for the Guardian. At one point I thought I would do something sensible and become a lawyer, and when I was 10 I wanted to be a ballerina.
Which books would you take to a desert island?
Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. I would also take the Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. It's about a vicar who travels to another planet.