Interview: Vivienne Lingard talks about Pocket Money & Other Stories
Vivienne Lingard has written the fictional memoir The (almost) True story of a Man called Jack. A new adult novel, Mrs Forsythe, is due for release in the future. Pocket Money & Other Stories is her first collection of short stories.
Vivienne entered University at 50, first gaining a BEd (Massey University), followed by a Cambridge Certificate in ESOL (International House, Barcelona), a Masters in Creative Writing (University of Auckland), and a NZSA mentorship with Stephen Stratford. In 2016, she was accepted for a short story masterclass with Tom Jenks, author and editor, in San Francisco. Vivienne talks to NZ Booklovers.
Tell us a little about Pocket Money & Other Stories
This collection of short stories draws from my life experience and many are underpinned by my background as an artist and teacher, in New Zealand and overseas. I have lived in several countries, and learned from their culture. I have borrowed from characters I have met, places I have been, and transformed them into fiction.
What inspired you to write this collection of short stories?
At first, I wished to relate an odd story about my father. But one story quickly became two. I did an Advanced Fiction course at Massey University and wrote more. I kept writing short stories until I found to my surprise that I had written over twenty.
What research was involved?
Considerable. Stories need to feel authentic, and this applies to place, as much as to language and character. I might look up street maps, essential buildings, monuments; check terrain, flora and fauna … and if a story is from an earlier decade, I would research the music and slang of that time and shape my language to fit the story, period, and place as authentically as I could.
What was your routine or process when writing this book?
I had written longer fiction before I embarked on the short story, and writing each story was like writing a mini-novel, but harder. I approached each quite differently, a character, place, or circumstance forming the initial idea. But my daily routine for writing was the same. I love exercise, and would walk after breakfast, and settle down to write by 9.30. As long as I wrote something, I was happy, and I didn’t work to a word expectation for the day.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
NinaSimone’s You’ve got to learn and Annie Lennox’ Sweet Dreams.
What did you enjoy the most about writing this Pocket Money & Other Stories?
The taking of an idea and weaving stories which appeal to the senses, creating characters which are well-rounded and memorable, and making each unique.
We know it’s like naming your favourite child, but what story do you personally like the best and why?
It has to be Pocket Money, as my sister and I shared a similar experience as children. It still moves me to read about a nine and seven-year-old girl being sent to live with strangers far away from home.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
I shared a bottle of prosecco with my husband.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
Travelling with Djinns by Jamal Mahoub (2004). I really enjoyed the layering of this first- person narrative. It is written in such a natural, intelligent, and often humorous way. I learned so much history about his home country Sudan, his divided loyalties to his parents and culture, and a great deal about literature. I felt I knew the Sudanese father and the English mother as their characters were so well written. Mahoub’s writing touched my senses, whether it was the setting, the people, the language – all was vibrant.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I have a new novel set in Wellington on the go. And the intended project after that is a graphic novel, where I can use both my writing and illustrating skills.