My Life as a writer
When did you first realise you wanted to write for a living?
When I was six years old. A great uncle had just given me a copy of Richard Adams’ Watership Down, and as I was reading parts of it, and having the rest of it read to me, I realised that a writer has a magic that can breathe life into all manner of creatures.
Which writer, past or present, do you most admire?
Argh – the question is in the singular, which makes it agonising to answer. Can I go by genre instead? Prose fiction: Katherine Mansfield. Poetry: Seamus Heaney. Non-fiction: Amy Liptrot. History: Sarah Helm. Children’s fiction: Alan Garner.
What was your first published (or performed) credit as a writer?
I had a poem about Senator Joseph McCarthy published in an Australian magazine called Access when I was about 16.
Which piece of writing work are you most proud of?
Hard to choose, again. Perhaps my long illustrated poem called Oak, Broom and Meadowsweet: A Book of Blodeuwedd. Perhaps my libretto for Mimma: A Musical of War and Friendship. Perhaps A Witch’s Natural History.
Who or what inspires you to write?
Wild spaces and landscapes, animals and plants, myths and folk-tales, history. Also, images created by my collaborators who work in the visual arts (Buffarches, John Lincoln and Martin Williamson), and in music (Simone Keane).
How do you switch off when you’re not writing?
I go on long nature walks, or I paint and draw illustrations for my writing.
Which one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep your integrity. Don’t sell out.
Why are you a member of WGGB?
I realised that whilst most writers ride on a wave of inspiration and are not very motivated by the need to protect their own interests, some other people are not so idealistic. Writers have rights, too, and because we require humility if we are to be good, introspective practitioners, we sometimes need help when it comes to standing up for ourselves.
You can find out more about Giles and his writing here.