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

Stylist's pick of the best new books for 2017

From family sagas to crime thrillers

by Sarah Shaffi
05 Dec 2016

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: First look at new TV series

Elisabeth Moss dons Offred’s famous red gown for the first time

by Kayleigh Dray
05 Dec 2016

The Girl on the Train author, Paula Hawkins, is back with second book

In a Stylist.co.uk exclusive, here's everything you need to know

by Sarah Biddlecombe
29 Nov 2016

You can now spend the night in the world's first library hotel

Why not cosy up in your own book nook?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
29 Nov 2016

You can now read Jane Eyre in Charlotte Brontë’s own handwriting

A luxury edition of Brontë’s original manuscript has been reprinted.

by Moya Crockett
28 Nov 2016

Mary Berry to meet with ‘civilised’ bookworms who shun #BlackFriday

Forget #BlackFriday; Mary Berry is all about #CivilisedSaturday

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Nov 2016

10 beautiful books to buy as Christmas presents this season

by Scarlett Cayford
24 Nov 2016

JK Rowling sends Harry Potter books to girl living in war-torn Aleppo

A little bit of magic in a dark world

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Nov 2016

Mouthwatering books about food to uplift and inspire

Delicious reads to whet your appetite...

by Scarlett Cayford
24 Nov 2016

Female writers are totally dominating at this year’s Costa book awards

From Kate Tempest to Rose Tremain and Maggie O'Farrell.

by Moya Crockett
23 Nov 2016