Claire Hennessy is such a talented writer and I adore her books so much so naturally, I was over the moon when I found out she agreed to an interview! She is the author of Nothing Tastes as Good and most recently, (the heavily inclusive) Like Other Girls! If you haven’t read either, then I urge you to read both right now! Check out her interview below!
1. As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal?
I am pretty sure someone will yell at me for cultural appropriation if I answer this…
2. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Put the writing first and worry less about exams. You’re a writer, not an academic. Stop thinking that exams will validate you as a person. No really, stop.
3. What was harder to write – Nothing Tastes As Good or Like Other Girls?
They were both tricky in different ways but neither were soul-destroying. I’m not a big fan of the ‘tortured artist’ idea – there are much harder jobs out there.
4. Are you friends with any other authors? If so, how do they help you to become a better writer?
I am indeed. I think it’s more about moral support than anything technical or craft-wise – justifying the time that you’re taking to work on a book, especially if it’s not your full-time job (which it isn’t for most people).
5. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Oh, this is a really good question. Yes, totally – because I have always studied or worked at things that involve a lot of reading, there are definitely periods of burnout where you just need to watch TV and not pick up a book. But I love TV, so it’s not exactly a hardship.
6. What is a book that’s made you cry?
I get misty-eyed a fair bit when reading (which is super-awkward on public transport) but I sobbed my way through John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars the first time I read it. Like, proper hysterical crying.
7. Have you any advice for aspiring writers?
Be less precious about what you put on the page (or the screen). Be comfortable with making messes or writing something even if it’s not a complete story or poem. It might be someday, but in the meantime just write. A lot of the ordering of stuff happens when you’re editing, not when you’re first putting words down, but we’re trained in school and work not to think of it that way. (Like, think about exams – it’s all first-draft stuff!)
8. Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ book characters?
There are several queer characters in Moira Fowley-Doyle’s recent The Spellbook of the Lost and Found and I love them all. Joel, the best friend in Deirdre Sullivan’s Primrose Leary trilogy. A long-time favourite is Nic from Sara Ryan’s Empress of the World, which is about a bisexual teenage girl who falls in love at a summer camp for gifted kids (i.e. the best plotline ever, if you live in my brain). Emma Donoghue’s Hood is not YA but has the best falling-in-love-in-an-Irish-convent-school story ever and a relatable, authentic narrator in Pen who details her frustrations with and yearnings for the more dramatic Cara; I also love Landing and the two very different women who fall in love across the Atlantic. I’m very fond of Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club series, which has several gay and bisexual characters in it. Also not YA, but Cyril Avery in John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies captured my heart, as did Flannery in Sylvia Brownrigg’s Pages For You (to which a sequel is coming, hurray!) and Tammy in Tom Perrotta’s Election.
9. Since the recent publication of Like Other Girls, have you got anything planned for further down the line?
I’m working on something new but it’s at very early stages yet!
10. And most importantly, just WHO is your favourite character from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?
Kimmy herself, definitely. I love her optimism and determination and general weirdness. Plus she learns life lessons from The Babysitters Club. I also have a soft spot for Andrea, her disastrous therapist, because, well, Tina Fey.