I first discovered a taste for life writing, particularly autobiography, while studying a Creative Module as part of my Literature degree with the Open University. Of all the forms of writing, it’s the one that comes most naturally to me – I just have to scribble down a memory and get to work on moulding and crafting it!
There’s something deeply satisfying about autobiography that brings out a strong literary streak in my writing. Perhaps it stems from a need to imbue my experiences with meaning? Or to portray myself as someone worth reading about? I had an unusual upbringing – quite exotic even, so when I came to write down my memoirs, I felt an obligation to do them justice.
My inspirations for life writing are Stephen Fry and Salman Rushdie. I simply adore Fry’s two volumes of autobiography, Moab is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles. They’re charming, candid and sincere and a model for the sort of writer I strive to be.
Rushdie’s novels are simply packed with rich, luscious use of language, and the attention he pays to sensory detail is second to none. In a novel like The Moor’s Last Sigh, you don’t have to imagine the scenes his characters inhabit – he transports you right into the middle of them! You can smell the spices, the flowers, the sounds of the marketplace; feel the rays of the sun; taste the perspiration. The man is a genius, and quite simply the finest writer I have ever read.