Interviewed by Sue Leonard.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 23rd March
Beginner’s Pluck Alicia Foster
Alicia grew up surrounded by books.
“My family hadn’t a lot of money. They’d buy books rather than shoes.”
As a small child, Alicia wrote mini histories, but in her teens she favoured art. After Art College, she began to write about art.
“I was writing academic texts, and was researching for a book on the women artists in the Tate. I discovered a war artist, Grace Golden, who’d written diaries. One was missing. It covered a period when she’d married and her marriage ended. I wondered why.
“Wanting to use my imagination, I turned to fiction. I had to change my style of writing. It felt like being set free.”
Who is Alicia Foster?
Date of birth: 6th August 1967, in Leeds.
Education: Sowerby, North Yorkshire. Manchester University Met, Fine Arts.
Home: Folkestone, Kent.
Family: Husband and two children, aged 9 and 5.
The Day Job: Part time lecturer in History of Art. “I write the rest of the time.”
Interests: “I love film. I get obsessive. I dissect them.”
Favourite Writers: Muriel Spark; Graham Greene; Henry Greene; Elizabeth Bowen; Kingsley Amis.
Second Novel: “I’m writing it. It’s about a violent woman, and it’s set in the 1920’s, and in modern times. I’m interweaving two stories.”
Top Writing Tip: “I like Kingsley Amis’s advice. The application of your backside to the seat. You just have to sit with it, and struggle with it.”
Web: Twitter: Neither.
The Debut: Warpaint. Penguin, Fig Tree: €18.60. Kindle: €10.43
Three women artists have been asked to record wartime life; but the home office only want optimistic stories. What can they tell, and what must be concealed? Meanwhile, another artist, stationed in Bletchley Park, is working out quite where subterfuge ends.
“This is a different picture of the war. It’s well trodden ground, but there are still stories that haven’t been told, and this is one of them.”
The Verdict: This gives us a fascinating glimpse into these women’s wartime lives. Clearly well researched, it’s a cracking good story.
© Sue Leonard. 2013