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Litro Q&A: Courttia Newland
Litro’s latest interview is with acclaimed writer, Courttia Newland. Courttia is a novelist, playwright, short fiction writer, lyricist and music producer, and the important role that both literature and music has played throughout his life is illustrated in this Q&A.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
My earliest childhood memories are quite scattered… Standing by the kitchen door on a winter evening, watching my mum doing some job or another. Her startled, thinking she’s put me to bed in my cot… She says I was really young, maybe two… Seeing my premature brother in an incubator, must have been three around them… Him coming home from hospital, all wrapped up like a Christmas present. Talking with my Grandmother in New York, the only time we ever spoke…
What makes you happy?
My family, hearing my wife making my son laugh. Writing. Hearing good music, and seeing great art of any kind. Being alive is pretty good.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I decided to be a writer around 19, 20, though I thought I was just deciding to write a book. Being a writer was just too weird for me. It was an entirely alien species.
What are you reading at the moment?
Just finished Forster’s Aspects of the novel and started Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. She’s a great writer who passed away a few years ago and is sorely missed.
What advice will give to a first time writer?
Write and read. Immerse yourself in art. Not much else really, it’s all just an extension of those three things.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I could tell you, but I’m not sure you’d want to hear it…
How do you relax?
I used to relax by watching films and reading, and although that does still do it for me a lot of times it can be work. Now I’ve allowed myself to play computer games, and listening to music helps too. If I can afford it I like to go away somewhere quiet where I can hear the sea. If not I try to take time out where I’m not thinking about much at all.
What is the most important thing life has taught you?
Too much! Writing lots of shorts, a play, gearing up for a new novel as part of a creative writing PhD… I have a new short story collection published next year, A Book of Blues, so I’m just in the process of proofing that… Good clean fun! I’m sure life is teaching me a great deal, I’m just not sure I’m learning! If I had to chose one thing, it would be that I know nothing. I’m constantly amazed by that and still feel like a child.
What are you up to at the moment?
You can catch Courttia reading from his latest collection of short stories at Word Migrants Present The Book Club at Cottons, Thursday 9 December, Cottons Restaurant, 70 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QP£6/£10 (with dinner).
A night of wonderous wordplay and scintillating storytelling featuring: Leila Segal, Agnes Meadows, Marcus Begg, Rachel Rose Reid, Gemma Weekes, Courttia Newland and hosted by Dzifa Benson and Naomi Woddis.
‘Look to the Sky’ was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award 2010.
‘A Book of Blues’, a collection of stories, was published by Flambard Press 30th March 2011.