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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 11:26 GMT
Talking Shop: AL Kennedy
Author AL Kennedy has won the Costa Book of the Year award for her novel Day.

The book tells the story of a World War II veteran who tries to deal with his past while working as an extra in a prisoner of war film.

The 42-year-old Dundee-born writer reveals how she juggles writing with being a stand-up comic and a lecturer, and explains how the award has left her suffering from jet lag and sleep deprivation.


AL Kennedy
Kennedy has an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow

What has your life been like since you won the prize on Wednesday?

It's slightly hectic because I came from Boston the day before, I didn't get any sleep yesterday or last night because I'm still on American time.

By the time I'd finished interviews it was three in the morning.

Now I'm going back to New York because the news about all this came much later than this American promotional stuff for Day and you're in a position where you have to do both.

How did you start writing?

I was very lucky - I grew up in a house with books and my mum was a primary school teacher so she taught me to read when I was three or four.

I was always very happy with language - I always made up stories.

I studied theatre studies and drama which was slightly more fun.

How would you describe Day in one sentence?

It's a story mainly about coming back from World War II and trying to deal with that experience.

You also work as a lecturer and as a stand-up comic. How do you find time to write?

The truth is, I don't really have a life so I have a lot of spare time.

How do the different jobs relate to each other?

I talk to students about using language and writing and how they might think about their own writing in different ways.

Stand-up is just telling stories to people, basically.

Which do you prefer?

It really depends what mood I'm in but they all do something slightly different.

How have your students reacted to your success?

They were really nice about the novel. They're very nice students.

It may make them feel that I'm better qualified.

In January, you were given an honorary degree in literature by the University of Glasgow. How was that?

They gave me a very nice day - it was quite touching.

I felt a bit of a fraud because everybody else there was graduating because they'd actually done a course of some kind.

I never went to my own graduation so it's the only graduation I've been to. I was wearing a big Harry Potter cloak - it was a lovely day.

How did it compare to winning the Costa award?

It was much more serene because you're not being photographed by 60 people at once and shouted at and not knowing quite what's happening.

And I'd had sleep - which is always good.

I haven't slept at all for a day-and-a-half and I haven't had a lot of sleep since Friday.

I have a flight to New York now and I hope can catch up on some sleep. I'm phobic about flying, so I doubt it, but I've got a reading to do in New York tonight.

What was the inspiration behind Day?

Partly, we're at war again and you're looking at comparisons between what we said we were fighting for in World War II and what we're now fighting for, which is a very different package of things.

And partly, just a fascination with that period that gave us the Britain that I grew up in.

It was very much the fruit of what people decided they wanted for themselves and how they decided to look after each other just after the war.

Any advice for aspiring young writers?

Yeah. Write.

You don't have to pay anybody money and you don't have to go on a course - unless you want to.

The way you will learn to write is by writing and you will teach yourself.

You don't have to give any of your power away if you don't want to.

AL Kennedy talked to BBC News entertainment reporter Liam Allen.



SEE ALSO
Kennedy secures Costa book award
22 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Costa Book Award list announced
02 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Women dominate Costa shortlists
21 Nov 07 |  Entertainment

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