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An interview with Tamsin Winter

Tamsin Winter has a magical way with words that has produced three award-winning books with more to come. Her writing is relatable, intriguing and is known for its hard-hitting themes with a twist of comedy. Her novels touch on real-life issues such as self-image, bullying and feeling powerless at home. In the 1980s life was a little different from what we know now. The world of electronics was nowhere near as developed and kids had to find alternative ways of spending their time. Tamsin filled her time reading books and has been writing since she was 8 or 9 years old. Writing was all she wanted to do. She wrote her first proper book, ‘Elvis the Miserable Mood Bug’, for her niece when she was a baby; the first book she had published was ‘Being Ms Nobody’ which came out in 2017. She is currently writing her fourth book, which is a slight change from her previous works as it has a more fantastical storyline. Tamsin expresses herself through writing, it is where she is most comfortable. Tamsin likes to write things that are highly emotional and difficult to talk about. She tries to add comedy into everything to make even the tensest, hard-to-read scenes entertaining and relatable. Tamsin says ‘Jemima Small’ was tricky to write about. Her favourite scene is where Jemima’s teacher says Jemima is hard to defeat, so Jemima goes home and writes that on her mirror.

“The best thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere.”

Another point of inspiration came from an Instagram post from Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter, Apple. Gwyneth Paltrow had promised Apple that she wouldn’t post any pictures of her online but then she did. Her daughter then commented on the post saying, “You said you wouldn’t post any photos of me,” and Gwyneth replied, “You can’t even see your face”. Tamsin thought about how Gwyneth had pushed her daughters’ feelings aside. She realised this is apparent in a lot of parent-child relationships and that a lot of parents assume they know best. This influenced ‘Girl in Real Life’.

“In order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.”

Tamsin’s inspiration comes from things that she has read and real-life stories. She once read an article about a girl who was weighed at school and had a letter sent home saying she was obese. The article was all written from the mother’s perspective and Tamsin wondered how the daughter felt about it. She did more research and found that the daughter had refused to go to school for a week because she was embarrassed, and she had also dropped out of her cricket team. It reminded Tamsin of all the body issues she herself had when she was in high school. This influenced ‘Jemima Small vs The Universe’.

Another point of inspiration came from an Instagram post from Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter, Apple. Gwyneth had promised that she wouldn’t post any pictures of Apple online but then she did. Apple then commented on the post saying, “You said you wouldn’t post any photos of me,” and Gwyneth replied, “You can’t even see your face”. Tamsin thought about how Gwyneth had pushed her daughter’s feelings aside. She realised this is apparent in a lot of parent-child relationships and that a lot of parents assume they know best. This influenced ‘Girl (in Real Life)’.

Tamsin’s favourite characters are the silly ones and she really liked writing Spud’s character in ‘Girl (in Real Life)’. She enjoyed writing a parody of the cliché in American movies where teenagers hang out with each other by climbing through their bedroom windows. She misses her characters after she finishes writing them.

When asked what book she would like to live in, Tamsin said she would live in ‘The Never Ending Story’, (her favourite book) or a Jane Austen novel with fancy balls.

Tamsin says, “The best thing about writing is that you have to think about it.’” She likes writing about inspiring moments and enjoys writing in different places wherever inspiration hits you.

Tamsin’s best piece of advice is to always carry a notebook with you.
By Amelia Wilson

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