Justina Hart

Justina Hart


Justina Hart in 60 seconds

When did you start writing?

I started writing when I was about 20. The brother of a friend (a poet and novelist) popped his head round the door of my student room at Oxford University and told me I was a poet. So I thought I'd better write some poems then! That said, I remember writing and making tiny 'books' when I was three years old out of 1970s vinyl wallpaper. And my parents say I used to write little plays as a kid and make my brothers act in them.

What do you love about Short Stories?

I love the condensed, jewel-like form of them; and the fact that, done well, they present a whole and satisfying world – heaven in a wild flower, as the artist William Blake said. Also the fact that they're a great place for newer writers to start; yet at the same time they're bloody hard to write well: they present an eternal challenge.

Do you write in other forms?

Yes, I'm a novelist and a poet. I've also written a play and a children's picture book. I was a newspaper features writer for a long time, and a copywriter.

What distracts you from writing?

Earning a living distracts me from my writing. I'm a self-employed writer and editor, so I spend huge tracts of time writing and editing other things in order to buy the time to write what I really want to write. Running my new business teaching online writing courses and running an online writing club is a big but rewarding distraction.

Outside of writing, what are your other passions?

I love hiking, badminton, yoga, photography and making things – usually quirky, creative gifts. And I'm passionate about teaching and supporting new and fearful writers. I like mini adventures and travelling – any day can include an adventure if you approach it right.

What is your favourite book?

I'd have to say Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook: I chanced upon it during a difficult time in my life and even reading one page was a glass of water for the soul. It made me want to write – and live – again.

Who are your favourite writers?

In terms of short story writers, I'd say some of the early American masters of the form, such as O. , Gosh, I find favourites so hard to do. I'll plump for Iris Murdoch because her novel The Word Child and Oh, yet another faves question – enough already :). Hmm, I'm going to pick the very much alive Sco

Where is your dream location?

As someone who's hitched, backpacked and roughed it around various parts of the globe, I would love,

What one item would you put into Room 101?

Sorry, folks. In descending order of Room 101 deservedness, it's got to be people who say 'should of' and 'could of' and 'I want one of them' and get 'less' and 'few' mixed up. Aaargh! Failing that, people who chuck bags of rubbish out of their cars on motorways. I'd put the behaviours in Room 101 not the actual people.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Find one or more fellow writers at the same stage and level as you and chat, support each other, swap work, and generally be very kind to each other as well as honest about each other's work. You're going to need support and the milk of human kindness to get through.

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