In The Chair 77: Rebecca Stonehill

Welcome, Rebecca Stonehill.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Rebecca: Historical, thought-provoking, heartfelt.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Rebecca: Definitely Kamau from The Girl and the Sunbird! I must confess to falling a little in love with him! He is very kind, calm, intelligent, handsome and tender. He is the kind of man that, had he been born in a different time, would have gone on to truly great things.

I also became fond of Alberto from The Poet’s Wife. Whilst not a main character, something about the big, dark eyes and sensitivity was pretty appealing! I think I’ll stop there, because my husband is a little unsure about that question…

Nairobi2If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Rebecca: Living in the busy metropolis that is Nairobi, I would love to exist as a character in my second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, so I could experience the emptiness of Nairobi a little over a hundred years ago. I wouldn’t like to be Iris, my protagonist, as the poor girl didn’t have an easy time of it what with her arranged marriage to a deeply unpleasant man. I’d much prefer to be another English woman living in Nairobi in 1903 who befriends Iris – but then again, had Iris had even a single friend, the plot would not have unfolded in the way it did!

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

guest-list-1-alamy_2272670bRebecca: I’d invite along Maya Angelou, who had the most tremendous sense of humour, dry wit and sassiness and I know she’d liven up any dinner party with her stories. I’d also invite Isabel Allende as she inspired me probably more than any other author in my early days of experimentation with writing. I’d cook something from Isabel Allende’s book Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses. Part memoir, part cookbook, it’s filled with outlandish recipes that would be really fun to have a crack at. To drink? Lots of cocktails to begin with to get Maya & Isabel suitably merry and then some good Chilean wine to keep Isabel happy!

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Rebecca: Children’s book, definitely, for around the age of 8-12. I think this is one of the hardest genres to achieve well in writing. Children are critical and discerning readers and any whiff that they are being talked down to, it’s game over. In the words of EB White, fantastic author for children: ‘Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.’ I am passionate about literature, storytelling and creative writing for children and would love one day to turn my hand to writing for children.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

MeRebecca: With the internet and the explosion in digital and self publishing, opportunities abound for authors. This is fantastic as it’s more of an even playing field these days, but what it also means is that in this saturated market, it’s much more difficult to get your books noticed and read. For authors today, we have to think of new and original ways to get our books out there – this is time consuming and can divert considerable time away from the actual craft of writing.

Favourite word?

Rebecca: Chutzpah. This is a Yiddish word roughly translated as possessing spirit and guts. My father, who was Jewish, often used to say that I had chutzpah.

Rebecca Stonehill was in the chair, author of: The Poet’s Wife & The Girl and the Sunbird.