Elizabeth Chats With…Su Bristow

My guest this month is Su Bristow, fellow Devonian writer and current Chair of Exeter Writers. She was the first winner of the Exeter Novel Prize, back in 2013, and is expecting to be very busy in the coming months as her debut novel, Sealskin is about to be published. I’m delighted she took the time recently to answer a few questions for me.

Hello Su and thank you for dropping by. Can you start by telling me what is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?

Standing at the back gate, looking through the bars to the church at the end of the road. The word in my head was ‘sanctuary’. I was three.

What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?

I liked most of them, but especially languages: German, French, Latin, Greek. Physics was a bit of a mystery, and games were torture. You weren’t allowed to wear your glasses for sport!

Talking about yourself, how would you finish the sentence “not a lot of people know…”?

…I used to be a cinema usherette. In the sixth form and before university (it wasn’t called a gap year then), reading Milton and Mallory while the film was playing.

If you knew you only had 24 hours left, how would you spend them?

Walking on the chalk uplands with my best friends and family.

Describe your ideal menu — and where would you like to eat it?

A selection of fragrant curries or Thai food, with friends, in a restaurant with a beautiful view. The Sea Pebble in Goa, for example.

What would be in your ‘Room 101’?

Air fresheners.

If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?

Doctor Who, in the days of Christopher Eccleston or David Tennant. I’d be an alien on a planet full of trees.

What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?

Nothing! I don’t like T-shirt messages. They can go in room 101 with the air fresheners.

Would you describe yourself as left-brain (analytical), right-brain (intuitive) or a mix of both?

A bit of both, I think. Words were always my thing, and then I studied anthropology and became a medical herbalist. At times I could feel my brain bending!

sealskinAnd finally, what are you most excited about right now?

My novel, Sealskin. It’s about to be published by Orenda Books (February 15th in paperback, or any minute now as an ebook) after about eight years of work. In 2013 it won the Exeter Novel Prize, and I thought that was the start of something, but the wheels turn slowly. Except when they don’t.

Sealskin is a retelling of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. And I love it even more, now that it’s kept me company for so long.

Thank you, Su, and all the very best for publication of Sealskin.


By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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