Tessa Hadley

Bad Dreams (Jonathan Cape, Vintage)

Below, Tessa answers some questions about writing and her book.

What is it that draws you to the short story form?

I love to read short stories, so I suppose life has often occurred to me in short-story-sized pieces. I felt I could write a short story first, when I still didn’t have any idea how to manage the great engineering of a whole novel. So my first novel is really a succession of short stories sewn together, in the right order.

Is there a short story that you love by another writer that you wish you’d written?

Probably too many to count – stories by Chekhov, Bowen, Gallant, Updike, Munro, many more. Except that you always know that you couldn’t have written them. You can only write the stories which belong to you.

What advice would you give to new writers starting out?

Copy. Try to write like other people, to find a bridge over into your own terrain.

Where’s your favourite place to write and why?

 At a desk in my bedroom. If I had a beautiful study all set up with ergonomic chairs and a view, I’d think I was a fake.

What was the hardest story in your collection to write and why?

I’m not sure I can answer that because all the stories are hard to write. Each is its own unique puzzle, which has to be unlocked before the story can come into its own, and find its life. You have to learn how to do it all over again, each time you begin.

Buy Bad Dreams here

Tessa Hadley is the author of six highly praised novels, Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Everything Will Be All Right (Jonathan Cape, 2004), The Master Bedroom (Jonathan Cape, 2007), The London Train (Jonathan Cape, 2011), Clever Girl (Jonathan Cape, 2013) and The Past (Jonathan Cape, 2015), and two collections of stories, Sunstroke (Jonathan Cape, 2007) and Married Love (Jonathan Cape, 2012). The Past won the Hawthornden Prize for 2016. She lives in London and is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her stories appear regularly in the New Yorker and other magazines.

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