Jackie Griffiths has a BSc in Psychology and Computing and an MA in Psychoanalytic Studies, and has been writing fiction and non-fiction material professionally for twenty years. In 2003 she founded an online copywriting business providing content for websites, print and digital media,
before selling up to concentrate on her novels and short stories. She now lives in abject poverty in the freezing ruins of an old sewage works somewhere in the UK, where she is working on her third novel and a set of scandalous poems.

A Short Interview

What was your first story?

I started writing when I was very young and still at junior school. I wrote stories in my spare time and used to dream of the day when I would become a writer. Then in the first year of senior school when I was age eleven I entered my first writing competition. My story was written from the perspective of twin babies inside the womb – their thoughts, hopes, and dreamy telepathic communication with each other. They worried about what would happen to them after birth and were afraid of being ejected from their safe, watery coccoon. Sadly, one of the babies dies and the other is left to live on alone until birth (which is where the story ends). I wanted the reader to be left with a sense of the emptiness of the womb without occupants, just the echo of the babies’ voices. I won a brand new pack of colouring pens for my efforts, and was extremely proud. I can’t remember what inspired me to write such a morbid story at such a young age, having never experienced death or tragedy, nor had a twin brother or sister. It must have been that over-thinking, over-imagining brain of mine.

Can you remember being read to by your parents?

Yes, my parents both read to me as a child, often daily. The books I specifically remember are ‘Watership Down’ which my father read out loud night after night, while I listened, enthralled, tucked up in bed; and ‘The Hobbit’ which my mother read to me during the day as we sat together on the sofa. There were many, many others, including Russell Hoban’s ‘The Mouse and His Child’, and the entire Tintin series. I was completely captivated all these wonderful stories, an experience intensified by the fact that we didn’t have a television. I was quite used to vividly conjuring up scenes from books and stories in my head for everyday entertainment. And when I was a little older it was fantastic to be able to read the books again by myself.

Do you have a favourite opening line from a novel?

“My Imperial life began with a smell. A rotten smell that came from my father’s coffin…” This is a book called ‘Empress Orchid’ by Anchee Min, based on the true story of the last Empress of China. I own many books about, and based on, life in China at the turn of the 20th century and during the subsequent seventy years or so, and they all fascinate me.

What is your favourite book, and what was it as a child?

As a young child, my favourite book was ‘The Hobbit.’ I read and re-read it over and over again, drinking in every word and falling in love with Bilbo Baggins. I dreamed of going on adventures with the characters and living in that world. As an adult, my tastes are quite different and I’m more interested in autobiography, literary fiction, and factual books, mainly about women’s lives and their triumphs over adversity, often in very different cultures to my own. I can’t name a favourite book, but I can say that some of the very best I’ve ever read include, ‘The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,’ by Siddhartha Mukherjee and, ‘Swallows of Kabul,’ by Yasmina Khadra.

Where do you usually write?

On my laptop at my small but perfectly formed and orderly desk at home. I don’t write anywhere else. I’m very sensitive to sound and conversation so I can only write in a place that’s as silent as I can make it. I like to hear birdsong through an open window in summertime, but that’s about the limit of my tolerance to background noise.

Do you suffer from writer’s block?

There is an easy cure for writer’s block: simply go to bed ensuring you don’t have a pen or a piece of paper anywhere near. Brilliant ideas will come flocking…