Natasha Pulley is our February Writer in Residence here at Gladstone’s Library. This means that for the entire month, Natasha has been living in, working on her current project, reading, conversing and just generally giving us all a lot to think about over dinner!
Author of the outstanding The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha gave a fascinating talk at our Hearth festival at the beginning of the month, exploring the links between Victorian Britain and Meiji Japan which permeate its chapters.
Before Natasha departs at the end of the month, she will be leading a writing masterclass exploring the language of genre which aims to set any struggling to find their writing voice on the right track! Ahead of this class, we caught up with Natasha to find out more.
Where did you get the inspiration for The Watchmaker of Filigree Street?
Loads of places. There’s no such thing really as inspiration, just little scraps of bright things you magpie from all over the place. There’s Sherlock Holmes and Japanese sci fi films and all sorts of stuff I don’t remember now mixed up in it.
How long did it take from start to publication?
About five years.
What have you been working on during your time as Writer in Residence at the Library?
Lots of research for the next book. I had a look through all the editions of the Illustrated London News from 1859, lots of science pamphlets, something about the electrification of Goldaming and some essays by the Society for Psychical Research. I wrote a short story about a lighthouse keeper on Mars as well, though I don’t think it’s very good.
Your masterclass is about finding the correct voice and register for the genre you want to write in. Can you think of any prime examples where the author got it very right or very wrong?
The whole point is that there’s no real wrong. There’s a great story called Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned [Wells Tower], which really illustrates that well. It’s about Vikings but it’s all in modern slang and it’s brilliant.
What advice do you have for budding writers gained through your own experience?
Stick to it. It takes a very long time, even doing it full time.
Can you tease us with anything about your next book?
It’s set in Peru, on the edge of the rainforest, and it’s about a priest who turns to stone.
What are you currently reading?
An anthropology/archaeology book called Culture of Stone which is about ways the Inca thought about stone. The most important thing is that there were some stones which were believed to be sentient, having once been people who then petrified. I’m also reading The Tongues of Men or Angels, by Jonathan Trigell, which is about the very beginning of Christianity. It’s gritty and grim and everyone gets killed by the Romans eventually, but it’s very good.
Natasha Pulley’s masterclass, Register, Voice and Genre: Learning from History takes place on Saturday, 27th February. This is a day-long course which begins at 10am. Tickets are priced at £35 which includes lunch and tea / coffee. For more information or to book, please call 01244 532350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.