Scene from the Sofa – Five minutes with… Meriel Whale

Graham Robson May 25, 2020

Meriel Whale has been a writer for as long as she could hold a pencil. She teaches creative writing to children, runs literature events and writing workshops in Lewes, leads webinars on writing for wellbeing and is a counsellor and special needs teacher. She has been published in poetry and short story anthologies, is studying at New Writing South, has started a Queer Writers group and is currently working on three novels. Phew! With all this, it’s a miracle she found the time to talk to Graham Robson about what she’s been up to while in lockdown, new skills she’s learned, and her plans for the future… 

Hi Meriel, how have you been spending lockdown?

I have been working from home as a counsellor and on a rota for school as a teacher and carrying on with my Creative Writing course at New Writing South online. I’ve carried on working on my three novels. I’ve also got used to seeing friends online and continuing my connections with my writing groups using group video calls. I’ve begun volunteering for my local foodbank as need has grown and found a new vocation leading quizzes for my work colleagues! I’ve also been really enjoying walking and jogging in the area around my home. 

How have you adjusted to working from home?
It’s certainly been a challenge and I am really missing seeing people face to face. However, it is great not to be commuting as much and I’ve learned to bake! 
What’s been the biggest impact to your creative output?
I’ve really benefited from online writing workshops with people like Dr. Sarah Walton who  wrote Rufius and Holly Dawson so I would actually say that my writing has thrived during this time and I’ve started work on a new novel. 
Has much caught your beady eye online? 
I’ve really enjoyed the National Theatre screenings, and the Stay at Home Literary Festival and it was great to see Juno Dawson and Patrick Ness interviewed online for The Coast is Queer. 

How do you think lockdown is affecting our LGBTQ+ communities? 

I am sure people are feeling lonely and isolated, unable to go to queer spaces. I know I am and I am sure I’m not the only one. However, it has  been great to connect with people online and I look forward to meeting them face to face when we can. MindOut is running online wellbeing workshops which are great and Brighton LGBT Switchboard is also doing a lot online and on the phone. 

What are your plans for when this is all over? Anything on the horizon?

Beginning a second draft of my queer historical novel ‘The Edenists’ to get it ready for publication, carrying on with my contemporary novel and beginning research for a second queer historical novel set at the beginning of the musical film era in England. 

Any tips to keep us busy?
Getting outside as much possible, journaling and bread baking have worked for me. Also writing as much as I can, and the excitement of a new writing project.  

Do you have any work you’d like to share with us?

Currently unpublished apart from in anthologies, but you might like to follow me at Meriel Whale Writer on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! 

Any words of wisdom to help us through? 

Just keep on going and don’t be afraid to reach out when things get hard. 

Follow Meriel @LewesReadFest on Twitter, @merielwhalewriter on Facebook and @QueerWordsinLewes on Facebook. 
Photo credit: Katie Vandyck