2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Eimear McBride has been longlisted for this year’s Prize for The Lesser Bohemians. Read on to find out how winning the Baileys Prize impacted Eimear’s career, why London holds a special place in her heart and why a tiny room at the top of a house is the best place to write.
What impact did winning the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction have on your career and your work?
Winning the Bailey’s changed my career hugely. If I’m honest it gave me a career. Obviously, suddenly having a career was something of a shock to the system and all the attention made it difficult to focus on work for a while. Once things settled back down though it was a great confidence decoy when I was having a bad writing day.
You began work on The Lesser Bohemians while your (Baileys Prize winning) debut A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing was still without a publisher. Was it difficult to write under these circumstances?
It was a mixture. It was very hard to keep the weight of my sense of failure off The Lesser Bohemians which, as a book about joy, really need to be spared too much existential despair. But also, there’s nothing like quiet for getting some serious writing done and I certainly had plenty of that.
Do you have a particular place where you like to write?
I like nothing better than a tiny dormer room at the top of a house with a good view out onto the world below.
In The Lesser Bohemians, the city of London is almost a character in itself – what does London mean to you?
I sometimes think of London as the love of my life. The Lesser Bohemians meticulously recreates the London I knew as a young woman arriving there in the 90s and I think it’s obvious how I felt about it, even back then. I’ve lived away from it for a long time now and absence only makes the heart grow fonder. Happily, I’m moving back there this summer and I’m looking forward to revisiting the romance.
Who are your literary heroines?
Emily Bronte, George Eliot, Edna O’Brien, Agota Kristof, Anna Akhmatova, Elizabeth Harrower, Han Kang, Marina Tsvetayeva, Sarah Kane… this list could take a while…