Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Stylist meets this year's Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Lisa McInerney

Baileys.jpg

On Wednesday night, Irish author Lisa McInerney won the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for her debut novel, The Glorious Heresies. A darkly funny story of how a murder impacts various lives in post-crash Ireland, the book explores the legacy of the country’s old-fashioned attitudes towards sex and family with clear-eyed tenderness.

McInerney started her writing career with her blog Arse End of Ireland, which she describes as a “hyperbolised, gonzo version” of her life on a council estate with a small daughter. Now, she’s joined the ranks of iconic previous winners of the Baileys Prize – from Ali Smith to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith.

Stylist caught up with McInerney shortly after she was presented with the £30,000 prize. “I feel surprised, stunned, but in a very pleasant way,” she told us. “I did not foresee this at all, and I’m just obviously really pleased and really happy and really surprised. I feel very honoured actually – that shortlist was stunning and the longlist was bloody stunning, so I’m very confused!”

Here, McInerney shares her thoughts on the importance of women-only prizes, why female writers must allow themselves to be selfish, and how to get words on the page. 

Baileys

Lisa McInerney with her fellow shortlisted authors for the Baileys Prize (L-R) Cynthia Bond, Elizabeth McKenzie and Hannah Rothschild

On finding the strength to write

“You have to be bloody-minded and this is one of the things women are not conditioned to be. I think women are conditioned to share their time, and I think you have to be quite pig-headed about your time to be a writer – you have to be selfish. Luckily, I can afford to be selfish because I’ve got a lot of support at home.

“But if you feel there’s a story you need to tell, something that you need to get down, you have to be quite dedicated to that above all else, I think.” 

On her writing routine

“I’ll get a few chores done in the morning, walk the dog and stuff. I’m not a morning person so I would get a few things done but then I sit down and I impose upon myself that I can’t get up again until I’ve written a thousand words. I can get up and make tea or have lunch or something but I can’t stop. Now, they could be a thousand terrible words and you could edit them back to three hundred words tomorrow.

“Everybody’s routine is different. Some people work really well late at night. But at the same time, don’t be waiting for the perfect opportune moment to write either because that will never happen.”

The Glorious Heresies

The Glorious Heresies

On women-only awards

“I do feel [they are] definitely a good thing. When you think of literary fiction, you immediately assume there is a male white writer behind it and [that] his themes are literary themes. And sometimes you see a book written by someone who differs from that avatar – such as a woman writer, an LGBT writer, a trans writer, a writer of colour – and their work is going to be seen in the context of that difference first of all.

“Their themes are going to be assumed to reflect, or be a response to their personal circumstances: “oh, this must be a book about being a woman, or being trans”, or whatever. It almost feels that the avatar we were talking about becomes the only thing that is considered literary, and all other work is assumed to be personal.

“When you have a restricted prize, like a prize just for women writers, you immediately just bypass that and go straight to the work and it’s examined on its own merit and it’s really wonderful. And [the Baileys] prize has such a history and it has such a devoted following too, and it finds readers. I think it provides a really wonderful roadmap for readers.”



Lisa McInerney

Lisa McInerney with the Baileys Prize at the awards ceremony

On taking writing tips

“Don’t listen to too much advice! You can find yourself writing to other writer’s rules but we’re all different, so that in itself is dangerous.”

On the Irish literary scene

“It’s so vibrant at the moment and so supportive that it’s really wonderful to be part of it, and I’m really glad to be accepted into it. From day one with this, I’ve had support from people like Kevin Barry, Joe O’Connor and Belinda McKeon. It’s a really lovely community there at the moment. And one feckin’ great debut after another! I don’t know what we have in the water over there but it’s working! It’s fantastic! We all know each other, it’s quite incestuous really.”

On her plans for the future

“My second novel will be out in 2017. We’re at the line editing stage, which is exciting. And right now I want to go to bed!”

Images: Getty


Related

BWPFF 2016 Shortlisted Books.jpg

Stylist’s bets for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

ES_LITFEST_AUTHORS.jpg

Join us at the Emerald Street Literary Festival

books.jpg

The most captivating new reads of June

hermione.jpg

JK Rowling hits back at "racists” unhappy with casting of Hermione

ThinkstockPhotos-100941553.jpg

Are you one of the 80% of people who hears an inner reading voice?

iStock_000072163307_Medium.jpg

50 best podcasts to make yourself wiser

BWPFF 2016 Shortlisted Books.jpg

Shortlist announced for 2016 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction

hero 2.jpg

The 10 most fascinating non-fiction books to read this May

sobbing.jpg

20 books, films and songs for when you need a good cry

me before you backlash.jpg

Jojo Moyes on the portrayal of disability in Me Before You

Comments

More

Elisabeth Moss on why you shouldn't binge watch The Handmaid's Tale

"You may need a second to step back and think about what you’ve seen"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Apr 2017

Exclusive: young mother who escaped Boko Haram shares her story

"I had to be prepared for the worst at all times."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
07 Apr 2017

Margaret Atwood has penned a brand-new ending for The Handmaid’s Tale

And she’s hinted at a sequel, too…

by Kayleigh Dray
06 Apr 2017

Witherspoon & Kidman are already planning a Big Little Lies follow-up

They have optioned a second Liane Moriarty book.

by Hayley Spencer
05 Apr 2017

The best new books of April

From learning to adult to haunting short stories

by Sarah Shaffi
04 Apr 2017

The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist is announced

Meet your spring reading list

by Sarah Biddlecombe
03 Apr 2017

The storyteller: Romola Garai kicks off Stylist’s Book Club

The actress shares her top 10 reads

by Helen Bownass
01 Apr 2017

Expert tips on how to beat writer's block

Five tips to get the words flowing

by Sarah Biddlecombe
31 Mar 2017

The nightmarish full trailer for The Handmaid's Tale has landed

Chilling

by Amy Swales
24 Mar 2017

Incredible quotes about mothers in literature

Tissues, at the ready...

by Jasmine Andersson
23 Mar 2017