The members of the Brussels Writers’ Circle are a varied bunch. Prose writers, poets, playwrights, memoirists, screenwriters and bringers of silly bits and pieces, we sweep in from all different occupations and locations every week to share our scrawlings with one another.
In ‘Meet the Circle’, we introduce you to some of our members, hopefully providing an insight into who we are, what we do, and what we think about Greco-Roman wrestling. Well, maybe not that last bit.
This week we will hear from Irish born-and-bred-but-now-Brussels-based Simon Boylan.
When did you join the group?
I’ve been in Brussels since 2010 but I only joined the group last summer. I decided it was time to start taking my writing more seriously.
What were your first impressions of the group?
I found it very welcoming. I must admit I was very nervous the first time I read out but the feedback was extremely encouraging. Any criticism I have received has been very constructive and helpful.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently bashing away at the second draft of my first novel, The Hard Road. It’s a crime/mystery novel set in Ireland.
Who are your biggest literary influences? How have they influenced you?
I was an obsessive Fantasy reader as a kid. Tolkien, Feist and the like. I think I may be one of the few people to have read The Silmarillion at age thirteen and loved it.
Once I left school I started reading anything and everything. Novels that have stood out for me are 1984 by Orwell, Norwegian Wood by Murakami, The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck, At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’Brien, The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger and I could go on but this is supposed to be a short interview…
… Okay one more thing. The author that has had the biggest influence on me in recent years is David Mitchell. Anyone who has read Cloud Atlas will be familiar with his beautiful use of language and ability to give a unique and convincing voice to a wide range of characters but for me his best work is Black Swan Green, a truly mesmerising bildungsroman about a teenager with a stutter. It’s magical.
Do you have a memorable moment from the BWC that you could share?
I think my favourite moments are probably not printable! There was a moment when I knew that my Irishness was starting to rub off on some of you when I heard Julien using the word “shite” in the group. Not to describe someone’s work of course. That wouldn’t be very constructive.
What do you get out of the group?
It has definitely made me a better writer. Receiving regular feedback on your work helps you to realise what works and what doesn’t, what your strengths are, what you need to pay attention to, etc. I have made some really good friends through the experience as well.