Colin GrantBy Sarah Hutchings
This interview with Colin Grant was first published on The Deckchair website on 28/02/2011.
How did you get your first break?
I wrote my first play, ‘Cheating Uncle Tom’, at university, and persuaded the Half Moon (in London’s Mile End) to allow me to rent the theatre, and put in on with a cast of amateur actors drawn from my year.
Could you describe your working day?
I rise at 7am and transcribe ideas that I’ve made note of the night before. If I’m feeling particularly fortunate and creative, those words may make it into a passage of a book that I’m writing at that moment. At about 8am, the children need to be fed, so I enjoy turning off the computer, and listening to their dreams. Between 10am -5pm, my creativity is given over to the BBC – writing drafts for radio programmes and briefs for presenters. When I return home, after supper, I start back on the computer and pick up the strands of the story I had been writing in the morning, for a couple of hours. Then, when tiredness kicks-in, I treat myself to just toying with notes, that will be amplified in the morning.
How does an idea become a book?
Usually through various manifestations. The very first ideas, though exciting to me, are often met with rejection from the agent and publisher. We drill down, though, and perhaps dig into older ideas that have laid dormant for a while. But now, with the right alignment of the stars, and the interest of the publisher, the moment seems to have arrived.
Which book do you wish you’d written?
‘A House for Mr Biswas’ by VS Naipaul.
As a reader, do you always finish a book you’ve started?
Eventually. But it may take a few years. The truth is I read differently now. If it is a book that somehow seems close to what I am writing, then I will stop reading it, and only return to it once I’ve finished my book.
If you weren’t a writer, what job would you like to have done?
Describe your perfect day.
To rise at 7am, and to have written satisfactorily for three hours; to have a meal with family and friends; catch a movie; and perhaps attend a gig.
What keeps you awake at night?
The idea that I will go to meet my Maker without having written my best work.
Why did you choose to live in Brighton and Hove and what keeps you here?
To get away from the congestion and ‘aggression’ of London, especially my monthly harassment from the police, who seemed to object to the fact that I was driving a Ford Capri in the early hours of the morning, after I had finished a night-shift at the BBC. All too frequently, I found myself being subjected to irritating questions such as, ‘Why were there cobwebs on my bumper?’ This convinced me it was time to get out of Dodge, and escape to the relative ‘calm’ of Brighton and its timeless egress of the sea.
How does living here inspire your work?
There are a number of creative people with whom I seem to be in sympathetic accord. For instance, my next door neighbour, Lizzie Enfield, recently published her first book, ‘What You Don’t Know’, and we inspire each other to continue pushing the boundaries of our work, and forging opportunities to promote the work in a range of venues throughout Brighton. For instance, Lizzie’s successful launch, at the Red Roaster Café, has led us to consider devising a monthly literary event, which could be held in a similar venue.
Colin Grant's latest book: 'I & I: The Natural Mystics: Marley, Tosh and Wailer' published by Jonathan Cape is available from Amazon.
This page was amended on 03/02/2012