Dan Rhodes interview

Little Hands Clapping author Dan Rhodes tells Time Out about his craft

The Knowledge

‘When I was starting out I would work through the night with an eight-pack of budget lager for company, but these days I can’t hack the nocturnal lifestyle. Our first baby arrived halfway through the writing of Little Hands Clapping, and that changed a lot. I had to keep reminding myself that it’s a job, and people with jobs have to continue working, so every day I would escape the chaos of home by walking up to the reference library in Edinburgh and writing there for a few hours.

‘Since then we’ve moved to Derbyshire in England, and my son is now a fantastically relentless two-year-old. I’ll be working away and he’ll burst into the bedroom, see me sprawled there with my laptop and say, ‘Daddy’s having a rest!’ I know that if I’m ever going to finish another book I’ll need to find some peace and quiet. Fortunately I live in a town where it’s possible to rent a small office for not too much money, so I’ve raided my life savings and put down a deposit on a room with two windows and a cupboard. I’m getting the keys next week, and starting the nine-to-five. I’m not getting an internet connection, so I won’t be distracted by emails or YouTube. I like to think I’ll be rattling off a bestseller a fortnight, à la Alexander McCall Smith, but we’ll see how it goes.

‘My writing is always fuelled by my proximity to ruin, and it’s nipping at my ankles right now. Some authors can manage to afford to pay alimony or live in London – sometimes both – but they are a tiny minority. I’m reasonably well established, but it’s still all a bit white-knuckle. I reckon this coming year is make or break. As the letting agent said when she was showing me the office, “If you find you can’t even afford this room, you’ll have to ask yourself if you’re in the right job.” Quite.’
Dan Rhodes’s latest novel, Little Hands Clapping, is published by Canongate.

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