Diana Evans

Diana Evans is the award-winning, bestselling author of Ordinary People, The Wonder and 26aHer prize nominations include the Guardian and Commonwealth Best First Book awards, and she was the inaugural winner of the Orange Award for New Writers. During lockdown, Evans has been working on her new book and has also been a Judge for The 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. (The winner of which will be announced 2nd July but you can read excerpts from the shortlist here.)  Below Evans talks to us about lockdown creativity and her favourite short stories.

What are you working on at the moment?
Another novel.  It’s bad luck to talk about work-in-progress.

How has the lockdown affected your writing?
It has made it more difficult. I have much less time and have to endlessly compartmentalise which is very exhausting. I have a recurring mirage of long uninterrupted writing days.

What have you been reading in lockdown?
Rachel Cusk’s Outline, Caryl Phillips’s The European Tribe and Anne Sexton’s The Complete Poems, among others.

What have you been watching or listening to in lockdown?
Lord of the Rings for sheer escapism, along with Big Little Lies. Music-wise I have been rediscovering my vinyl – Al Green, Arrested Development, Joan Armatrading.

What do you enjoy most about writing? 
I enjoy playing with language most of all, making sentences, the deep thinking of it. I like spending time with characters I find entertaining or relatable. Overall I like the quiet power of writing.

What would you say to authors just starting out?
Eschew premature perfectionism, it will hold you back. Throw your soul at the page and trust in it.

Finally, please can you tell us which are your 3 favourite short stories and why?
There are so many stories I love. Among them are Lucia Berlin’s ‘Unmanageable‘ – it has the most unforgettable, haunting opening of a life steeped in addiction. I also love Daphne du Maurier‘s short stories and one of the best I’ve read is ‘Monte Verita‘ – her hold on narrative and her sense of pacing are useful lessons for the writer of short fiction. And James Baldwin’s ‘Going to Meet the Man‘ is both timeless and resonant in its traumatic subject matter and sustained elegance.

Diana Evans Interview
— Francesca
24th June 2020