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’m Will, 26, and I’m originally from Southampton but now I live between London and Dorset.
How would your best friend describe you? Harmless fun.
How did you ‘get into’ writing? Why do you write? Like many: creative kid, turned teenager, turned adult. I like to write about films and music because it’s great to discuss these things. I hope that some of the ideas explored in my fiction can inspire thought, conversation, general empathy, or even possible change.
Who are your biggest influences? (inside and outside of literature) Hard question. I think film is a big influence on my work. And sobriety I find extremely useful.
Do you have a specific technique or routine to your writing? Any strange writing habits? Mine is a pretty basic structure: a shiny pot of coffee and somewhere quiet. Other than that, I find walking a really good time to come up with ideas and fix problems with my work. Sometimes it can be good to have that space where you can think about things without any way to get them down. That way stuff is allowed to develop and organise itself nice and freely.
How important is inspiration to your writing practice? Being really inspired is great, but usually I find however I am feeling that if I just sit down, get super high on caffeine, and stare at a document or do a bit of side reading on my laptop, something will come. In that way the practice and routine can come to create the inspiration.
What are you working on right now? Right now I am working on a short story based on the Monday of the 2011 London riots. It’s a piece I wrote at the time, and something I have often come back to. It’s also about pregnancy, I think.
What are your plans for the future? What’s the ultimate goal? My long-term project is what you might call a ‘speculative fiction’ novel. It is about a changing London, and then it’s about a prison system. I am trying to go somewhere apart from the dystopian futures angle.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Read loads. I didn’t at first. I wasn’t that classic writer who was getting through the canon at 12. I am still working on my reading habits but I know for sure that whenever I have a burst of reading, my progress in my writing bursts along with it. Also write loads.
What are you reading at the moment? Would you recommend it? I am reading Michel Faber’s The Book Of Strange New Things, and yeah, it is good. It’s a very human, relationship-led sci-fi, about a pastor travelling to be a missionary on a foreign planet. I am still only just getting to the real ‘Ideas’ side of the book, so hopefully it will turn into something interesting and great.
Who is the most underrated author? I read this book about sailing boats once, and boat construction, it was written very well… Can’t remember the name though.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring? Radio. Seed bank. Human?
If you were left in the woods with only the items in the room you are in, what would you build? Dog powered kettle.
If I came to your house for dinner, what would you cook? Fish pie and cocktails.
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? Turning the prison system into something more humane.
Who would play you in the movie of your life, and why? Keanu Reeves obviously, because of his delivery. And everyone else would be played by Patrick Swayze.
Pen or pencil? Nokia 3310.
Scones: jam first, or cream? Pasty.
What question do you wish I had asked you? Answer it now. No, I got it protecting a child from a random knife attack.
You can – and should – read an extract from Will’s novel on Goldfish.