The author of The Still Point explains to Richard Lea how her debut book, which has just won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize, began 'out of desperation'
"I've always written on and off," the novelist Amy Sackville stops, pauses, reconsiders, "but I've never been one of those people who's constantly writing stories. I find it a bit of a struggle."
Fresh from winning the £5,000 John Llewellyn Rhys prize
with her first novel, The Still Point, Sackville's mood is more of reflection than triumph. She sits with arms and legs crossed and tries to explain how, to her own surprise, she's ended up a prizewinning author.
"I suspect if I had found a job in literary publishing as an editor I might not have done this," she confesses, "because I think I would have been fairly happy doing that, but I didn't."
Born in 1981, Sackville went to a "perfectly nice comp" in county Durham – though her family moved around so much that her accent has lost any trace of the north-east – before studying English and theatre at Leeds and then English at Oxford. A couple of years working as a PA then as an editor with an illustrated books publisher left her in search of something else, but she struggles to explain why that something else turned out to be writing fiction.
Her love of books, of language, had drawn her to publishing, but having tried life as part of the team producing other people's books and found it wanting, she decided to give writing her own material a try, a move that promised a little more for someone who admits to being a "bit of a show-off". In search of the motivation to write, she decided to do a course in creative writing at Goldsmiths in London. "I think it was born out of desperation, as much as anything. I've tried all these different things and I'm dissatisfied."
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