Naomi Foyle: dreams of becoming a writer

We asked Naomi Foyle, author of Seoul Survivors, had she always dreamed of becoming a writer and, if so, has it turned out how she imagined it?

As a child I wanted to be an actress, a lawyer or a foreign correspondent. I was always a bookworm, though, and my late mother Brenda Riches, a poet and short story writer, encouraged me to write. Possibly her success intimidated me; in any case it wasn’t until I left home for university in Toronto that I started writing, producing short stories, prose-poetry, a still-unpublished experimental novel, and a libretto for a chamber opera, Hush, that was produced at Theatre Passe Muraille and won several awards. This early success gave me the confidence to decide I was now definitely a writer.

I remember dreaming of a life of adventure – I would travel the world, write about the places I’d seen, give readings, and meet interesting people doing passionate, revolutionary things. It all worked out pretty much like that, usually on a shoestring, and has even incorporated my earlier ambitions. I’ve done performance poetry and travel journalism, and my political activism for Palestine is grounded in international law. Though I thought I would publish a novel a lot earlier than I did, ultimately everything has unfolded in good time. In my twenties I thought I was a genius, of course, but in fact I needed to work on craft and going back to university for postgraduate degrees as a mature student really helped me refine my technical skills. I didn’t think I’d end up teaching at a university like my parents, but actually I enjoy it. A little bit of humility is not a bad thing in a writer – or any one!

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