Frances Browner is the eldest of eight children, auntie to eighteen nieces and nephews; grandaunt to one; 45 cousins: cast of characters. By age seven, she had attended three primary schools and lived in four places. Now she lists twenty-six addresses on Garda Vetting Forms. She was born on Bloomsday, is a Gemini.
What genre(s) do you write?
Literary fiction. Poetry. Memoir.
Are you mostly a short story writer, or do you also write in other forms?
I write poems—have published a collection, Roots & Wings and curated a Poets Wall in Greystones. I also had memoir pieces published and broadcast on radio, and have completed a novel with the help of a mentor from Wicklow Arts Office.
What is it for you about writing?
I’ve been writing instinctively since an early age. I was a prolific letter writer during my childhood and teenage years, starting at age seven with letters to my grandfather. I kept a diary since I was 12, and always wrote rhyme for birthday cards. I loved writing essays in school, then eventually took a creative writing class in my 30s and was hooked.
Where’s your writing space?
… a nice box room between the mountains and the sea in County Wicklow.
… nah, I just launch into it whenever the mood takes me. I also teach creative writing and complete all the exercises with my students. If something grabs me, I go with it.
Elizabeth Strout. If I could do something fun with her, we’d hang out in some mid-western American town, eat a lumberjack breakfast in the local diner and do some writing together at one of the formica tables, a waitress with a loud voice refilling our coffee cups at intervals. Then we’d read to each other what we had written.
Are you structured or unstructured as a writer?
Unstructured. I’m liable to write any day, any time—I don’t think ahead. But I did add structure to my novel this year, having been appointed a mentor by Wicklow Arts Office.
If you could improve your writing right now…
I’d take more workshops, freewrite more often, submit more often.
When you are not writing…
I’m in a singing group; listen to music a lot, bake bread, make hummus! I teach, facilitate a weekly writers’ group; host a monthly Poet’s Parlour and participate in Open Mic readings. I practice yoga and enjoy long walks and used to travel a lot, until lockdown.
Reading right now…
New York, an epic novel by Edward Rutherfurd. It’s a compelling history of a great city and state where I lived for 20 years, which I fear is now deteriorating.
Gone with the Wind, for the sheer romance of it and depiction of another time.
For more on Frances, visit her on Facebook under Frances Browner, or on Twitter: @frannerb2