On Wednesday 22nd October, members of IV, V and VI, as well as several members of staff, gathered in the Cadogan, to hear Belinda Seaward give a talk on her recently published book Hotel Juliet. It was an extremely successful evening. Belinda spoke confidently on the process of writing Hotel Juliet and her experiences of being a writer. She described events vividly, involving you in her experiences. She spoke of the difficulties she had had with writing the novel, such as not being able to write for months at a time and then writing non-stop. Overall it took her 10 years to complete Hotel Juliet.
She also talked about what inspired her, landscapes being the main idea, especially mountains. She described how the moment she arrived in Africa the first time she visited it, she knew that it was going to have a profound effect on her life. She talked about how characters can be created. She said they can come from a passing sentence a phrase or just a movement. One of the main characters in the book is based on a couple of lines from a story she heard while in Africa, showing how the most abstract and apparently random event can perhaps be useful to a writer, like Belinda.
She talked about how she found the effects of events more interesting than the events themselves, describing this as like dropping a rock into a pond which creates a ripple effect in the water; but rather than examine the ripples (or events) she would prefer to examine the gaps between the ripples instead (the effects of the ripples). She also spoke on the more technical aspects of being a writer, such as a typical working day (finding your best times to work, in her case early in the morning) and how the process of getting a book published worked (agent & editor).
She has not always been a full time writer, being an English teacher previously, and this showed when she answered questions. She answered questions with honesty and precision which is always important at events like this, when you’re talking to a relatively young audience. She also used just the right amount of detail, keeping us interested without overwhelming us.
Overall I very much enjoyed the talk, and having not yet read Hotel Juliet plan for it to take pride of place on my bedside locker, as my reading for half term.