Lisa Blower is the author of ‘Dirty Laundry’. Lisa grew up in Stoke on Trent – a place that continues to inspire her writing. Her short story, Broken Crockery won The Guardian’s National Short Story Competition in 2009 and Barmouth was on the final 5-story shortlist competing for the 2013 BBC National Short Story Award. In 2014, Her short story, Pot Luck, was read on Radio 4 in their ‘State of the Nation’ short story series.
Lisa has completed her debut novel Sitting Ducks. She is currently completing her short story collection, ‘It’s Gone Dark over Bill’s Mother’s’. She lives in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
Author Q & A
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this story?
Two things really: Carolyn Steedman’s Landscape for a Good Woman had been a text key to my PhD, (which was on the history of female autobiographical practices from the 13th Century to the blog) and is always, somehow, in the back of my mind, and then because I am fascinated by, and love as characters, the working class matriarchs in working class fictions. You can try and typify them but no-one really knows anything about them, because if they’re anything like the generations of matriarchs in my family then they’ll tell you other people’s stories but never any of their own.
So I took the notion of ‘retirement’ – as a form of self-loss-ness – and what this means for the working-class woman who’s had work, and a strong work ethic ingrained in her by her mother and so forth. I had the idea of a not-quite-60 woman having to renegotiate her sense of identity but through a series of very small happenings that have big impacts upon her sense of self and then how she wouldn’t really tell you all about it, which is why I’ve used the 2nd person: to give the idea that she isn’t really telling you her story or she can only tell it if detached from it.
When did you start writing?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer so have always written but I don’t know when it is that you become a writer, just that one day you do and you take it a lot more seriously than you did and want to do it more than ever. Winning The Guardian in 2009 was a big turning point because all of a sudden my words were on the page for everyone to read and not stashed on shelves in Morrison’s carrier bags. It also led to getting an agent which was wonderful, and has been, on many levels: not least because I have this constant unflinching support and honesty that you really cannot buy.
What’s your favourite book or short story?
I adore the short story form – you have to be so very clever with the implied and all that you don’t have the time to say- as I admire so many, and am so glad that there are more and more outlets for short fiction. So take your pick…. Raymond Carver’s Why Don’t You Dance? Lorrie Moore’s How. DW Wilson’s The Roads. Alan Beard’s Little Chef. Jennifer Egan’s To Do. Writ by Ali Smith…..
What has been your biggest challenge as a writer?
Getting a novel published. It’s such a long and bumpy journey and you feel like you’re hitch-hiking all the way hoping that one day someone will just pull over and open the car door for you. Then you’ll get in and away you go!
Agent Representation: Lisa Blower is represented by Philippa Brewster at Capel & Land.