We asked Carys Bray, author of A Song For Issy Bradley, six questions about being a writer and her favourite books!
1) What was your inspiration for writing this book?
"I was thinking about all the miraculous stories I listened to as I grew up and I was wondering what would happen if a little boy took those stories literally. I was also thinking about grief and the different ways in which people respond to loss. And I was interested in looking at both the comforting and confining aspects of belonging to a religious community."
2) What were the main challenges that you faced when writing this book?
"I think the main challenge was to keep going. It was my first novel, so no-one was waiting for it, there was no deadline and consequently it was up to me to keep myself motivated and get on with it."
3) As a child or teenager, did you want to be a writer and if so, is it as you expected?
"I did want to be a writer, but it’s not as I expected, primarily because when I imagined myself as a writer I also imagined that I would be poised and confident and glamorous etc. but I’m still me!"
4) Who are the writers that have influenced you?
"Carol Shields influenced me. I love her work and I was also very inspired by her life. I discovered her novels when I was in my mid-thirties and was relieved and cheered to learn that she came to writing later, after she’d had her children. I also love Helen Simpson’s short stories, Anne Tyler’s novels and anything by Ali Smith."
5) What's in your reading pile currently?
"A proof of Stephanie Butland’s novel The Other Half of My Heart, Maggie O’Farrell’s After You’d Gone, The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness."
6) What is your all time favourite book?
"Oh, that’s hard. It’s probably The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields."
7) How did it feel to be shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2015 and which other nominated books did you enjoy reading?
"It was hugely exciting to be shortlisted, especially as I had already read several of the longlisted novels and consequently knew how good they are. I read Chop Chop, The A to Z of You and Me, Our Endless Numbered Days and Elizabeth is Missing and enjoyed them all. I hope to read the others at some point, too."
A Song For Issy Bradley is available in paperback for £7.99 or in hardback for £12.99. If you'd like to order a copy of A Song For Issy Bradley or of any of the books mentioned by Carys Bray, click HERE.