Urszula Soltys

Evie Wyld was born in London in 1980 and grew up in Australia as well as South London. She studied creative writing at Bath Spa University and Goldsmiths, University of London. Her first novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin literary award. In 2013 she was included on Granta Magazine's once a decade Best of Young British Novelists list. Her second novel All the Birds, Singing won the Miles Franklin Award, the Encore Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize, the James Tait Black Prize and the Sky Arts Times Breakthrough Award and longlisted for the Stella Prize and the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction.

How many ideas for potential works do you have in your head?

Usually just the one I'm working on but this time around I'm working on a screenplay as well as the next novel so I feel quite divided. I tend to work on one idea for a week then put it aside and work on the other one. I have no idea if this is a good way of working or not, it just seems to be how it's all working out.

When working on a new project, how do you sift through competing ideas in order to move forward?

No, I think it's more organic than that – I write and the things that interest me come out of that. I tend to think on the page rather than 'in the air' – my memory is too bad for that. And I don't tend to move forward, maybe sideways, or perhaps more accurately, it feels like a fattening.

What writing habit do you have that is impossible to shift? (That could be a particular snack, writing hours, location, caffeine consumption etc.)

Black coffee and being alone at a desk or a table. I can't write in bed or at the kitchen table while family life is going on. I can only drink one coffee a day without feeling terrible, so it has to be a really good one and a really big one. I work best of all in the morning.

The international literature festival berlin (ilb) has become an essential part of Berlin’s literary calendar. What do you connect with the city?

I first came to Berlin when I was 20 and studying art – it was a week-long trip as part of the course. We were supposed to buddy up and go around galleries, but I seem to remember I walked around outside looking at the city for most of the time. And it was freezing cold.

What impact did the past 12 months have on your writing and ways of working? (Answers could range from challenges of home schooling to enjoying some quiet time or a writing routine turned upside down)

For part of the time I stopped working because I had to homeschool our son, and I reverted into an inadequate 1950s housewife, like many of us did. I found reading almost impossible, it couldn't hold my attention, and the act of writing made up stories felt a bit silly at points – I wondered if novelists would exist after the pandemic. But eventually I found pockets of time, mostly in the early morning before my son was awake. Socially not much was changed – I'm a quiet person, I didn't miss people, but I found my quiet space inhabited by my family and I'm looking forward to getting some of that back soon!

Evie Wyld