Charlotte Grimshaw is the New Zealand author of five critically acclaimed novels, Provocation, Guilt, Foreign City, The Night Book and Soon, and two short story collections, Opportunity and Singularity.
In 2000 she was awarded the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship. In 2006 she won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award and in 2007 she won a Book Council Six Pack prize. Her short story collection Opportunity was short listed for the 2007 Frank O’Connor International Prize, and in 2008, Opportunity won New Zealand’s Montana award for fiction, along with the Montana medal. She was also the 2008 Montana Book Reviewer of the year. Her story collection Singularity was short listed for the 2009 Frank O’Connor International Prize and the South East Asia and Pacific section of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. The Night Book was one of the three fiction finalists in the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards. She writes a monthly column in Metro magazine, for which she won a 2009 Qantas Media Award.
Charlotte Grimshaw is the daughter of author C.K. Stead. She lives in Auckland.
Why I write
I have always written fiction, since I was a child. My father is a writer, so when I went to university I decided to go my own way, and completed a law degree along with my arts degree. I worked for some years as a lawyer.I was particularly interested in the criminal law, and assisted with some good cases, including murder trials, but my first love was fiction, so in the end I gave up the law and went back to writing.
Do you write every day? What sort of writing habits do you keep?
I write every day in the mornings, once I’ve got my family organised. I write for about three hours. Then I have to go and get some exercise. I can’t work unless I’ve burned off a lot of physical energy.
Where do you work? Describe the physical domain of your writing space…
I work on a desk in my bedroom. I’ve never yet had a room of my own to work in. I wrote three novels on a minuscule table at the end of the bed. These days I have a bigger desk, but one day I would like to have a study in the house.
Worst source of distraction?
My family. I’m very fond of them, so I tend to get side-tracked when they need something.
Best source of inspiration?
High quality fiction – the classics and good contemporary writers.
Do you get writers’ block / doubt your own ability?
I usually have a period after finishing a book of not knowing what to do next, but so far that period has never lasted very long. Sometimes I have false starts, and have to go back to the beginning, and then eventually I know that the project I’ve embarked on is the right one.
Contemporary writer in any medium who you never miss?
I never miss a new book by Martin Amis – even if it doesn’t entirely work it will be fascinating, strange, idiosyncratic and superior to many other writers’ work.
I have many favourite books and writers. I love Dickens, Henry James, E.M. Forster, Gunther Grass, John Banville, Alice Munro. I love The Untouchable by John Banville, Money, London Fields and The Information by Martin Amis, Bleak House, The Tin Drum and so many more it would take too long to list.
The book you should have read but haven’t?
I have never read any Proust.
You look back at the first thing you had published and think…
Naive, gauche, lots of mistakes, but also plenty of power and intensity.
How did you get started writing?
I got started writing a novel in London when I had young children. I wrote at night. I found myself a UK agent, who got me a publisher and a two-book deal.
Does writing change anything?
To my mind, fiction is the most sophisticated art form besides poetry. People who don’t read good fiction are missing out on vital information, as well as entertainment.
What are you working on now and when is it out?
I have just published a novel here in New Zealand called Soon, which will be published in the UK by Jonathan Cape in July this year. I’m now writing a sequel to Soon.
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013