An interview with Beatrice Colin

‘Beatrice Colin is the author of four novels for adults including The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite (published as The Glimmer Palace in the US) and The Songwriter. Selected by Richard and Judy for their TV book programme, she has been shortlisted for a British Book Award, a Saltire Award and a Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. She also writes short stories, screen and radio plays and for children.

One of her children's novels, My Invisible Sister (with Sara Pinto) has been optioned by Disney in the US. Her novel for children, Pyrate's Boy is written under the name E.B. Colin and is published by Floris Books.

Beatrice is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.’

(Taken from

I read The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite, which I loved as a novel. I contacted Beatrice to ask her if she was able to attend the St Clémentin Literary Festival, this coming August 29th to the 31st. The response was a positive, she would love to.

Beatrice is the first author to be interviewed, and here are my questions and answers.

Thank you, Beatrice.

1. When did you begin writing?

I come from a family of writers - my father made used to make up stories for us on long car journeys and my mother wrote poetry and children's fiction. She wasn't widely published but she gave me the sense that it was possible. As a child my writing was the one thing my teachers commented positively on. I wasn't especially studious at school.

2. Did you take any formal training?

I never took any courses - I suppose I learned by doing. Also when I was at university, courses in creative writing didn't exist. I did an arts degree and then became a journalist covering the arts, which I loved. I wrote in my spare time until one of my short stories won a competition for young writers on BBC Radio 4. After that I was commissioned to write a play and had a few more short stories published.

3. Do you write across all genres, ie fiction, poetry...

I write fiction for adults, for children and drama for radio. I don't write poetry. I find that one informs the other. Radio drama is closer to prose than drama written for the stage. It requires tight plotting - something that I find useful when writing fiction.

4. If you weren't a published author would you still write?

It's becoming increasingly hard to get published but although I have two manuscripts that failed to find a publisher, I start a novel with high hopes. Ultimately I write for myself but I have to believe that it will eventually be good enough for other people to read and enjoy. I like the sense that I am making something that didn't exist before - so yes, I probably would keep writing. I don't know what I would do otherwise. Writing is sometimes torturous but the sense of achievement you feel when you finish something makes it worthwhile.

5. Who are your favourite authors?

I have many favourite authors from Chekov to Donna Tartt. I like literary fiction and well-written drama.

6. Who are your main influences?

I think you are influenced by everything that you've ever read. Even bad books - I once cut out all nearly all metaphors in my novel after I'd read a very flowery manuscript.

7. What are your main interests outside of writing?

My main interests outside writing is probably film (although that's about writing too). I have a family so a lot of time is spent ferrying them back and forth to ballet classes or whatever.

8. Can you tell us anything about yourself?

I teach creative writing at the University of Strathclyde.

9. What will you offer to the literary festival?

I will read from my new novel about the construction of the Eiffel Tower and run a workshop. As someone who has written a lot of fiction and drama, I hope to be able to offer advice and support to writers.

10. What do you hope to take away from your experience at the St Clémentin Literary Festival?

Like most writers, talking about writing with other writers is one of my favourite things. I also love France and all things French, so I am looking forward to it immensely.

(All of this text is owned by Beatrice Colin. None of it may be reproduced, quoted from in full or part without her permission.)