Here at Creative Access, we had the privilege of speaking to the multi-talented Ingrid Persaud, author of the stunning new novel, Love After Love. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the BBC Short Story Award, Ingrid gave us an exclusive interview all about her journey from law to fine art to writing, and shares her wisdom for aspiring authors.
Q: Tell us about your background?
I am a Trini to the bone – born and lived there until I was eighteen. Since then London has been my home and I also spend time in Barbados. Regardless of where I am physically my heart and navel string are firmly in Trinidad.
Q: You’re a woman of many talents, from law to fine art. Why did you decide to start writing?
I took my cool time getting to writing. For decades I was hustling with this thing and that thing and never completely at peace with myself. It was only when I moved to Barbados and desperate to carve out a creative space that I turned to writing fiction. It was portable and fitted with my other commitments. Now I’m privileged to write full time.
It was only when I moved to Barbados and desperate to carve out a creative space that I turned to writing fiction.
Q: What is Love After Love about?
It’s the story of an unconventional family – Betty a widow, Solo her son and Mr Chetan their lodger. All is well until one night, after a few glasses of rum, secrets are revealed that tear them apart. To mend a broken family takes all kinds of love – starting with love of the self. Love After Love borrows its title from the poem by Dereck Walcott. If you haven’t read it yet go now. I don’t know what you’re waiting for.
Q: Have you started your next book yet? If so, what’s it on?
I am always writing. When I’m not writing I am thinking about writing. Maybe what I’m working on now will come together and form the next novel. Or not. I’m prepared to discard work if it isn’t good enough.
I am always writing. When I’m not writing I am thinking about writing.
Q: What do you think about representation of diversity in literature in the UK?
Serious talk now. What we read and who we read moulds us so we can’t let this issue slide. Diversity in literature suffers from both under-representation and misrepresentation.
Diversity in literature suffers from both under-representation and misrepresentation.
The under-representation is stark. Statistics show that less than 5% of characters in children’s books are BAME. Fewer BAME writers are being published since 2000 than the previous two decades. Indeed, the Jhalak Prize was created specifically to raise the profile of BAME writers in Britain.
As that wasn’t bad enough we have a next challenge – misrepresentation. Once your name looking little ethnic your work is immediately exotic – “multicultural literature” or “world literature” or some other subset that gets put on the back shelves. It’s hard to simply be considered as writing literature and to have your work compared to your peers regardless of ethnicity.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring authors?
Respect yourself and your work. That means showing up at your desk and writing every day. Yes, every single day even if it’s for 15 minutes or half hour. None of this waiting for the muse business. For all you know the muse self-isolating. And read, read, read. It’s that simple and that hard.
Respect yourself and your work. That means showing up at your desk and writing every day. Yes, every single day even if it’s for 15 minutes or half hour.
Q: Something we won’t find out about you from following you on Twitter!
Decide what you’re willing to reveal on social media and leave out the rest. I tweet mainly book related content and a bit of politics. Otherwise, you see me? I keeping myself quiet. But if I had to tell you something personal…Is shame I shame. I’m the only Trini who can’t dance. How I born without rhythm I’ll never understand.
You can buy a copy of Love After Love here.