CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Q&A: Writer and teacher Susan Powell

PUBLISHED: 16:17 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:48 20 February 2013

Susan Powell

Susan Powell

Writer and teacher Susan Powell, 55, tells Hannah Gray about her dream of being a guest on Desert Island Discs and her Bishop's Stortford comfort zone

Where do you live?
Sawbridgeworth. I have lived there for nearly 30 years.

Tell us about your career.
I have 30 years of teaching experience, which, until very recently, was immensely rewarding and fulfilling. Parallel with this I gained two MAs and a PhD in Shakespeare Studies, being very fortunate in having as mentors professors Stanley Wells and Andrew Motion. During this time, I also became increasingly committed to writing. I left my lecturing job last summer to have more time for people and for writing, both books (the current work-in-progress is Mr Handel's Soap) and scripts for performance. For eight years I have written for Figur'd Shade, an arts/education group. Its home base is just across the border at St John's ARC, Harlow, where we have a remarkable and very loyal audience.

Who or what inspires your creative writing?
I think greatness in others, by which I don't just mean the famous. I am intensely responsive to the spirit of place, too.

Where do you go to write?
I make notes and jottings wherever I am. I compose from these at my desk or table, which are downstairs - I like to be in sight of the shifting nuances of the garden. In the summer, with the patio doors open, I feel really connected with the outdoors. I write detailed drafts longhand and use the laptop to edit and refine them.

Have you ever written about Hertfordshire in any way?
Not specifically but it appears in many things I write, especially my observations of the natural world and those more affectionate passages of my descriptive writing.

How do you relax?
The company of family and friends is always a great tonic and revelation, and I read, or listen to music, or observe birds and creatures in my evolving garden. I watch murder mysteries.

What is your favourite song or piece of music and why?
This is difficult. Choral music (I'm Welsh) and solo female vocal music move and excite me most. To name a single example would feel like a betrayal of the others unnamed. A piece of chamber music I find extraordinarily profound and moving is the so-called Hymn of Gratitude from Beethoven's quartet Opus 132. It takes one to some deep and mysterious place way beyond human knowledge.
What is your favourite book?
This is also difficult to categorise. Having read, then studied and taught literature for most of my life, to choose just one book is actually impossible but Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice never fails to give new delights and unique joy every time I read it.

Where are the best views to be had in Hertfordshire?
Two prospects which always fill me with pleasure and wonder are Hatfield Forest, with its gorgeous seasonal variations, and the stretch of countryside between Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth - moving across this space feels like breathing again after being held too long underwater.

What is your favourite town in Hertfordshire and why?
As far as towns go, Bishop's Stortford is my comfort zone. I feel at home pottering around the shops and market or having lunch with family and friends in one of the two arborial restaurants at either end of the town. I enjoy going to Waterstone's for a browse among the books and glance at my Mozart's Sister on the shelves. Then, up to Costa's for a coffee and to reflect, read, observe and jot down ideas.

Describe Hertfordshire in one sentence.
Green lungs between west and east.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Health permitting, I hope to still be enjoying the company of those I love, striving to do more good in the world, writing even better and for an increasing audience - maybe answering these kind of questions on Desert Island Discs.

Article taken from July issue of Hertfordshire Life


More from People

Friday, December 7, 2018

Devon Life received this heartfelt letter from Mr Michael Thompson, of Torbay, which is felt particularly poignant to share with our website audience at this time of year

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

The actor Anthony Head talks to Bernard Bale about his love of animals and wildlife, and the countryside around his Somerset home

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

Talented singer brings home prestigious title after top performance

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hanna Miraftab, newest star of hit TV series The Real Housewives of Cheshire, shares some insight into her life

Read more
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bursting with festive inspiration, KATE WILLIAMS seeks out the best presents for a perfect Devon Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Ballroom star and world class judge Gary Edwards has enjoyed an incredible career in dance, claiming 30 dance titles across the globe, followed by a stint as advisor to the Royal family of Brunei. Now a presenter on hit American show Dancing with the Stars, Denise Marshall caught up with the Romford-born star for the inside word on Strictly 2018!

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

As we mark the centenary of the end of world War I, Hannah Salisbury from the Essex Record Office reveals a unique insight into life at war during this bleak time | Words: Hannah Salisbury

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We asked our very own Snowman to reveal his top cultural picks

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We peek inside wildlife painter Catherine Ingleby’s Shurlock Row home, which she has transformed from a dated 70s relic into a colourful hive of creativity

Read more

Celebrating the centenary of women being allowed to vote in a UK General Election, we look at leading Kent ladies, then and now

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search