Author Confessions: Malachy Tallack

Malachy Tallack
Category: Reading

Malachy Tallack is a writer, editor and singer-songwriter from Shetland, currently based in Glasgow. He was a Scottish Book Trust New Writer Awardee in 2014. He has had articles, essays and reviews published widely, and as a singer-songwriter, he has released four albums and an EP, and performed live in venues across the UK.

With his new non-fiction book 60 Degrees North recently hitting the shelves, you can imagine how busy Malachy is. Luckily for us, he's taken time out to tell us a bit more about what makes him tick...

What’s a successful day of writing for you?

If there are more words on the page than there were the day before, that’s a success. If the path ahead seems clearer and less difficult than it did the day before, that is a triumph.

What is your worst writing habit?

Not writing. I look at the paper; I draw some shapes in the corner of the page; I extend those shapes a little further in to the page; I cross out a word I wrote yesterday; I put it back again; I draw a sad face; I make coffee.

One of the most common pieces of advice for young writers is “write about what you know”. It’s not good advice. 

Is writing a pain or a pleasure?

Writing is mostly a pain. The pleasure comes in having written – the perfect tense.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve received?

One of the most common pieces of advice for young writers is “write about what you know”. It’s not good advice. What you know already is not always very interesting. Better to write about what you imagine, what you wonder, what you would like to know. 

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors what would it be?

Don’t be a perfectionist. You will never be entirely satisfied with anything you write, but if you’re aiming for perfection the disappointment will be constant. It will cripple you. Remember that it’s better to have published imperfect books than to have a perfect one that never leaves your head.

Is there a book by someone else that you wish you’d written?

There are many wonderful, inspiring books I wish I had written – too many to mention, in fact – but I’ll let my wallet answer this one: Fifty Shades of Grey.

How do you react to bad reviews?

I convince myself they are correct.

Which piece of your writing are you most proud of?

I spent a long time writing Sixty Degrees North – several years of my life were invested in it – and for much of that time I found it hard to imagine ever reaching the end. So I’m very proud that I did eventually complete it, and that the effort proved to be worthwhile.

Have you ever been propositioned by a fan of your work?

Sadly not.

What’s the strangest question you’ve been asked about your work?

Have you ever been propositioned by a fan of your work?


Competition: Win a copy of 60 Degrees North

Thanks to Polygon, we've got 3 beautiful hardback copies of 60 Degrees North to give away. 

60 Degrees North

All you have to do to enter is answer this simple question in the comments below or email your answer to marked 'Malachy Tallack Competition': 

What is the name of Malachy's non-fiction book?

Closing date: 17:00, Tuesday 28 July 2015. Open to UK entrants only. Full terms and conditions.


Discover more secrets from writers including Irvine Welsh and Liz Kessler in our Author Confessions archive.

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