GOLD RUSH: Eilis Long

Eilis Long
Eilis Long (© Liza Frank)

With a staggering volume of successful creative alumni, Goldsmiths University London is an institution that takes talent seriously, and its MA in Creative and Life Writing has nurtured some of the finest contemporary literary talent. Evie Wyld, Lucy Caldwell, and Ross Raisin are just some of its most recent graduates who have gone on to find critical acclaim and success. Now a student on the MA herself, Livvy J Hooper is here to use and abuse her position as a CV writer and MA student to chat with some of the brightest stars on the course; who just so happen to be some of the brightest literary talents on the horizon. Remember these names…

Tell us a bit about yourself – who are you, where are you from?

I am Eilis, 23, from Birmingham.

How would your best friend describe you? 
I so don’t have a best friend, and have realized this because of this question. Man. But I asked someone else and they said – ‘mainly alright sometimes’.

How did you ‘get into’ writing? Why do you write?
Because as a child I preferred the company of teddy bears to the company of other children. Society with teddy bears requires narrative flair and makes every day an exercise in imagination.

Who are your biggest influences? 
Morrissey, Alan Partridge, Spice Girls, All Saints, Thomas Hardy, Zadie Smith, Buffy, Joey Potter of Dawson’s Creek, and early Backstreet Boys. Oh and Taylor Swift, of late.

Do you have a specific technique or routine to your writing? Any strange writing habits? 
I write in transit. On journeys and even when walking – I type things into my phone.

How important is inspiration to your writing practice? 
I usually need a book or a TV show or something annoying to happen to get my creative motor running.

What are you working on right now?
A novel about an 11 year old boy that commits suicide, set in Birmingham.

What are your plans for the future? What’s the ultimate goal? 
To get my novel published and for people to read it (so help me God). And then write some more and help other people write some more. I would like to do a PhD and teach in a university but, you know, pipe dreams.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Oh god, what advice would I give to me I suppose? Read more (obvz) and, if you are capable of it, take up a religion – I wish I could do religion.

What are you reading at the moment? Would you recommend it?
I am re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird at the moment and yes, half the western world would recommend it so probs read it. And I’m reading Benedicta Leigh, The Catch of Hands because I want to read stuff about eccentric kids who have breakdowns in adulthood. It’s dead good – funny.

Benedicta Leigh - The Catch of Hands ( omg Amazon)
Benedicta Leigh – The Catch of Hands 

Who is the most underrated author? 
Jonathan Coe. He has done well commercially but he is so intelligent and has documented British life in the 70s, 80s, and 90s more shrewdly than anyone else (in my opinion). Also Shelagh Delaney, a kitchen sink playwright. She is the coolest. A Taste of Honey was my favourite thing as a teenager. I think they used to teach it in schools.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring?
Deodorant (roll-on) and toothpaste. And can you take a person? If so, Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys fame. He is my long-time fave.

If you were left in the woods with only the items in the room you are in, what would you build?
It depends whether I am building with a view to being saved, or whether help is already on the way? Let’s pretend it’s the latter. I would make a nest-den hybrid using the sofa, table and cushions available here in my parents’ front room. I would use the stationery here to make organized piles of stationery because I like to do that anyway. And I would use everything else – the TV, the files, CDs – as weapons against potential attackers/predators.

If I came to your house for dinner, what would you cook? 
Lasagne. But with Quorn. Love Quorn – versatile and sans-gristle.

If you were to be known for one thing and one thing only, for the rest of your life, what would you want it to be? 
Author of the great contemporary novel. Or as Taylor Swift’s new best friend. Either/or.

Who would play you in the movie of your life, and why? 
Taylor Swift. Or Keavy from B*witched.

Pen or pencil? 
Pen. Inky pen. I’m so over biros.

Scones: jam first, or cream?
Scones, gross. A baked good that falls short of being a cake.

What question do you wish I had asked you? Answer it now.
What are you wearing? Gap pyjama bottoms (classy), an Edinburgh Woollen Mill jumper (classic) and a Gaelic football t-shirt that I won as a nine year old (class 5HY, Wheelers Primary School).

You can – and should – read Eilis’ work on Goldfish, and check out her website. Follow her on Twitter, too.

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