Rachel Ingrams

Rachel Ingrams

Rachel Ingrams was born in 1974. Blood Tender is her first novel and is drawn in part from the times when she lived and worked in Sicily, aged 19, and when she lived in a gypsy tenement in Prague, aged 24. Rachel now lives in Sheffield where she works with sexually exploited young women around their drug and alcohol use.

What were the charms and challenges of writing Blood Tender?
The charm was becoming utterly lost in an imaginary world almost every day for at least half an hour! The main challenge was to sit with doubt: not to just stop and pack it in when I didn’t like what I had written.

Did you use old diaries and journals to remind you of the landscape and the people of Sicily?
Yes, I had a small green notebook. I was continually asking people the names of plants and flowers. It was for landscape really – like taking a photograph. My characters seemed to come much later, from my own emotions and states of mind.

Can you tell us why, as a writer, you are drawn to characters on the margins of society?
There is a raw energy and a truth on the edges, which I love. I find great beauty and inspiration in the struggle for survival. People who have less are more real to me – and they laugh a lot more and pack more of a punch than those who have more, and who as a consequence fit in. I think I’m an outsider myself in a lot of ways.

Where do you do the majority of your writing?
In cafés. I like to write in the middle of a lot of noise.

How do you balance being the mother of two little girls with being a writer?
I’m not sure balance is the right word! I never plan to write, I take the opportunity when it arises if I’m not too tired. I just write when the kids are asleep, basically, and when they’re awake I try and love them to the best of my ability. I adore them, so it doesn’t feel hard to give them my time, even if they do drive me nuts.

Do you ever get writer’s block, and if so, how do you deal with it?
I have no time for writer’s block. That’s a serious answer! When I don’t feel like writing but have already turned on the laptop / picked up the pen, I try and write without thinking, with no constraints, I tell myself it doesn’t matter what I write as long as I write.

Can you sum up your writing style in five words or fewer?
Economical. Brave. Poetic.

Which existing book do you most wish you had written?
Lolita. (I absolutely can’t wait for The Original of Laura to come out, whether Nabokov would have wanted it or not!)