Bernie McGill was born in Lavey in County Derry in Northern Ireland. She studied English and Italian at Queen's University, Belfast and graduated with a master's degree in Irish Writing. She has written for the theatre (The Weather Watchers, The Haunting of Helena Blunden), short stories, and a novel, The Butterfly Cabinet. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for numerous awards and in 2008 she won the Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Award in the US. She is a recent recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's inaugural ACES (Artists' Career Enhancement Scheme) Award in association with the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University, Belfast. She lives in Portstewart in Northern Ireland with her family and works as a Creative Writing facilitator.
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Bernie McGill talks about her widely-praised debut novel, The Butterfly Cabinet, and answers some revealing 'quick questions' about herself
You've written plays as well as short stories and novels. How has your experience with playwriting (and with watching your plays unfold in front of you) affected your fiction writing?
Writing for the theatre, in my experience at least, is a much more collaborative process than writing fiction. During the making of a theatre piece, there are a number of voices in the room, there's more input from other creative people, all of whom have an investment in the final made thing. When it comes to writing fiction it makes you very aware that the choices you make are your own. I always read my fiction aloud, I need to hear what's being said to gauge its authenticity. I think theatre writing makes you a more spare fiction writer; it makes you aware of how much you can show and how little you need to tell. It makes you realize how redundant most adjectives are and how important nouns and verbs are, the real nuts and bolts of writing. And I think it helps you to focus on what happens. You need to treat your potential reader with the same respect you'd grant an audience member, ask yourself, "Would an ...
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