To celebrate the release of her new book Her Sister's Secret, author S. E. Lynes has opened up about seven things her readers may not know about her...
1. I am, or at least I used to be, a good mimic and I love to make people laugh. At school I used to impersonate the teachers and between myself and my cousin, we could do pretty much all the teaching staff. We used to give ‘concerts’ in the girls’ changing rooms but so many people ended up coming that things got out of hand and we got into trouble and were banned. I actually think there is an awful lot of mimicry in writing – the ability to capture a voice, mannerisms, etcetera.
2. I have a black miniature schnauzer called Lola, who has her own Instagram account called DogsDoBooks in which she enacts works of literature: Dog at the Window; The Dog in the Striped Pyjamas; Gone, Dog. My favourite of these was her collar propped up against a cushion: The Invisible Dog. Unfortunately, I am terrible with technology and managed to lock myself out of that account and couldn’t get back in. Writing this has made me determined to try again. There are so many great books for Lola to do. The Dog on the Train, Dog in the Willows, anything by Pat Barker...
3. My grandfather was an electrician but was always making things. When I was little, he made a bunk bed and a cot for mine and my sister’s Tiny Tears dolls, both out of wood and painted pink, with bedding made by my grandma. My mum raised us at home but got a part time job as an assistant in an art college. There she began to make stuff from clay and went to make all kinds of amazing earthenware for our home. Last year, in her seventies, she gained an MFA in Fine Art from Kingston University. My brother is a graphic artist. My son is studying Menswear at Central Saint Martins… it is interesting to me to trace this progression from very working-class roots.
4. I learnt to bake when my kids were wee and have made a great many novelty cakes for my family and friends. The Batmobile, Spongebob Squarepants – once, a tailor’s mannequin for a fashion designer friend, which was challenging – to get it to stay upright, she had to be rather wide of waist. Baking is a nice break from writing.
5. I will dance Northern Soul for a bet when I’ve had a drink.
6. I used to suffer from GAD, general anxiety disorder. I almost didn’t publish my first book and had to have counselling to get me through it. My counsellor got me to accept that what other people think of me and my work is not something I can control and is not my responsibility. Pushing myself through this very painful barrier has made me more confident. I still have wobbles but I am better at dealing with the nerves and better at looking after myself until they pass. Publication day is an ordeal but I am learning to enjoy it. Being open and honest about how I’m feeling helps enormously. Looking back, publishing a book forced me to accept I had a problem, to confront it and take responsibility for it.
7. When I was 50, my husband organised a surprise party and my friends decorated the local cricket club as Studio 54. There was a golden dancing cage suspended from the ceiling made out of a hula hoop and macrame, banners embroidered with lyrics to funk records, and they swapped the white lightbulbs for red ones. It was absolutely amazing having pals from different places and life stages all in one room and I will never forget that night.
Her Sister's Secret by S. E. Lynes is out now.
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