Daphne Glazer lives in Hull where she works as a Quaker Visiting Minister in Hull Prison, as an FE teacher and a creative writing tutor. Roddy Doyle praised her first collection as: ‘great stories, shocking and ordinary’, and the author says of her fiction, ‘Everything I write is about those quirky, unlikely people you might meet in the street.’
Which have been the landmarks or highlights in your career?
My first story on Radio 4 when I was in my early twenties; being a winner in the Guardian short story competition and having my story published there; publication of The Last Oasis, my first collection of short stories. I feel I’ve had loads of highlights – there was writing a serial story for a Nigerian newspaper and I’d be stopped in Kingsway Stores, Lagos, by people who’d say, ‘Please do tell me what is going to happen to Tunji …’ Knowing that your writing has reached people carries its own quite special thrill.
What other jobs and work have you done that have proved useful to your work as a writer?
Working for the Goethe-Institut in Nigeria; working in sweet factory for five months; working in prisons.
What is the most challenging aspect of your writer’s life?
Trying to write while being the breadwinner and having a full-time job, plus bringing up a family.
Do you enjoy plotting and research – or do you prefer to take a different tack?
I have to acquire my major material before I start writing. In the course of a novel I may do further research but the main amount has been done previously. I enjoy the process of digging up material, it helps my imagination along.
Have you tried writing in other forms? What’s special about the novel? Or the short story?
I never write poetry. I have done various pieces of journalese usually to serve a particular purpose, i.e. if I am in a rage about an issue, which I want to publicise. I am at heart a novelist and short story writer. I value the concision of the short story form and the way it demands a virtuoso performance. In the sort of crammed life I have led, it has been the form I could most easily accommodate. Latterly I am turning increasingly to the novel form – and I love the way it can let itself spread to encompass so much.
What do you like most about your fiction? What do you hope readers will enjoy best?
I love my characters and I always hope my readers will love them too.
Who is your favourite writer?
It’s impossible to name one favourite writer because I adore so many – Anne Tyler, John Updike, William Boyd, Alice Munro, Rohinton Mistry, Tobias Wolff, Jane Gardham, Carole Shields … I probably feel most inspired by Anne Tyler because I admire her characters so much; though Updike is such an amazing stylist that a paragraph or two of his writing is like a shot in the arm for me.
Do you like to keep up with the contemporary literature scene?
I do tend to concentrate on the contemporary writing scene – I suppose while I was growing up I covered the classics pretty thoroughly, and I rarely have time to read anything twice!
Which book might you be most embarrassed to admit to reading?
I never read anything I don’t consider good writing – life’s too short to waste on the third rate.
What other forms of expression most appeal to you?
Painting, sculpture all appeal strongly to me. Music is very seductive too. Certain aspects of sport like swimming intrigue me and the way some people practise it with an obsessive dedication. Watching someone perform an action flawlessly is, for me, very inspiring.