“Discover her before the rest of the world does” – Scott Pack
I have always wanted to write. It is the way I can make my own map of the world. I write to find things out for myself, to share what I learn with others, to walk a little in others’ footsteps. I never want to get over how lucky I am to make a living doing what I love.
It has led me to work with students from all over the world as the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the London School of Economics, to be Canterbury Laureate, to be part of the tutor team on the prestigious MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development at the University of Sussex, and to get paid by Psychologies Magazine to keep a diary about having fun for a week.
I’ve now written three novels and two books of short stories (one in collaboration with Lynne Rees.) My last novel, GETTING THE PICTURE, was about love and loathing in a care home, and was published by Ballantine in the US.
Recently though I’ve been writing poetry, and my first poetry collection, YOU DO NOT NEED ANOTHER SELF-HELP BOOK is published by Pindrop Press. This includes poems that have been published by Poetry London, the Financial Times, Pen International and the Virago Book of Shopping. Nothing makes me happier than people saying that my poetry is accessible, although I did smile when Will Hermes, author of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire and Rolling Stone Magazine critic, called them ‘Sexy and tragic – my favourite combination.’
Rather than giving you my whole CV, let me tell you ten things about me and my life that have changed my way of thinking:
1. When I was eight, I started writing seriously. My friend, Heidi, and I were going to open our own library, filled with our own books. We gave up at tea-time, which was probably a good thing, but it left me dizzy with desire to have people read my words.
2. Before I moved to Edinburgh, I had only visited it once in the sunshine. The only person I knew there was someone a friend had once worked with briefly. I didn’t have a job. It was the best move I ever made.
3. The house I live in now in Tunbridge Wells was once Beau Nash’s illegal gaming rooms. It was built in 1690, and although it’s supposed to have ghosts, sadly I’ve never come across any midnight poker sessions.
4. Instead of revising for my A’levels, I read Jean Paul Sartre. I wrote about prawns instead of pawns in an essay on ancient history. I used to shake with excitement when I got a new copy of Vogue. Not surprisingly, I didn’t go to university but to the London College of Fashion to do fashion journalism. BUT for the last ten years, I’ve worked in four different universities and for three years, was the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the London School of Economics. I think we all find our own way to where we’re supposed to go.
5. In 2008, I went to Iowa to join the Tiny Circus animation project for the summer. This wasn’t just so I could tell people that I really did run away to join the circus, but it helps.
6. I collect photographs of benches, and if you don’t believe me, take a look at A Quiet Sit Down. There are stories everywhere, and people leave such beautiful loving messages on benches that it’s a shame to just walk past.
7. When my husband and I were first married, we used to cycle round Kent eating the exact same picnics described by the writer Denton Welch in his journals. When we moved to Tunbridge Wells, we found – by coincidence – that we were living right next to the husband of Denton Welch’s best friend. Picnics are my favourite food, and I long to edit an anthology of picnics in literature, especially Ratty’s.
8. I worked in London as an account director for Lynne Franks PR, the model for the TV show, Absolutely Fabulous. We had paparazzi at our office parties, and bright pink filing cabinets. We also worked very late every night because it was just so much fun. That’s the way I always want work to be.
9. Two years ago I climbed Kilimanjaro. Slowly slowly… but getting to the top was one of the best things I’ve done. Now I’m looking for another challenge. Please contact me with ideas and the sillier the better, because if they are very silly, I might ask you to do it with me.
10. I don’t believe in the notion that being a writer inevitably means suffering. Or that the act of writing has to be painful in order to be any good. In fact, writing makes me happy. But also very very tired. And hungry. So I do a little every day, sometimes a very little but I still keep going. Slowly slowly….
And here’s what other people have said about my writing:
“Salway’s appreciation of her characters is refreshingly nonpatronizing—her oldsters have rich and naughty pasts, but live in the present, very much alive and eager to gossip, conspire, and seduce.” – Publishers Weekly review of Getting the Picture
“Salway is completely psychotic in the most charming way possible.” Goodreads
“Original and charming” Marie Claire Magazine
“Salway is fearless in her choice of subjects: she is good on contemporary themes of love, betrayal and twenty-first isolation, as well as sensuality and violence.” The Stinging Fly