McCarthy & Stone meets: Author Fay Weldon
14 April 2014
‘Retire? Chance would be a fine thing!’
Author, feminist and playwright, Fay, 82, tells Life & Living about her latest historical trilogy, set in Edwardian Britain, and reveals why she’ll never retire.
Q Why the Edwardian period as the setting for the Love and Inheritance trilogy?
The modern age changes so fast it can be difficult to keep up with, but the great thing about the past is that it stays the same – so I went back for a rest! The internet makes research so much easier, too. When I wrote the first episode of Upstairs Downstairs I needed a team of researchers – that isn’t necessary now. There are also interesting similarities with the Edwardian period and the present day. For example, our fear of Facebook is similar to their fear of electric light – candlelight was so much more flattering to the complexion!
Q Has your source of inspiration changed over the years?
Not really, I’m inspired by life as everyone lives it, which is very different for each generation. I don’t think my writing has changed substantially either; I was more naive when I began but I was writing about a society that was much more divided between men and women than it is now. The divisions are still there but they’re not quite so important, and other people write about them perfectly well. When I started, they didn’t.
Q Who do you enjoy writing about the most?
Women in their thirties – I think we all enjoy reading about this age (no matter how old we are) because we look back and identify with all the things that happened then, including the massive changes women go through in motherhood.
Q Do you still write every day?
I do less than I used to, but I also teach [Fay is a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University] and write as often as I can. It’s a life without free time but of course I enjoy it. When writing fiction you invent characters all the time so you’re never lonely, there’s no reason to stop. Retire? Chance would be a fine thing.
Q What advice would you give to anyone who wants to write in later life?
Just do it. When you’re young you don’t have that much to write about in a novel, for example. Older writers have all too much to write about. If you’re writing your biography, envisage your family sitting in a circle and write as you talk. Biographies are fun and interesting; you can sort all kinds of things out, though opening old wounds can be painful, too – so don’t feel obliged to tell the whole truth!’
We're giving away a copy of Fay’s Love and Inheritance trilogy.