Hay Festival Debut Discoveries - Q&A With Alice Winn

Each year, Hay Festival Wales champions 10 remarkable debuts from first time authors as a part of our Debut Discoveries series. Our line-up for 2023 includes Alice Winn with her Top Five Sunday Times Bestseller debut novel In Memoriam. Get to know Alice better in this Q&A...

What compelled you to write your debut?

I had always been interested in WWI, but it was when I stumbled upon my old school newspapers from the period that the idea for In Memoriam came to me. The newspapers were written for the students, by the students, and they provided an incredibly raw and visceral window into the impact of war on a group of boys. It shrank the war down to the size of a school and made the tragedy so personal, so intimate. In Memoriam is partly told through letters and newspaper articles to recreate the feeling I had when reading those old papers.

What does being featured in Hay Festival’s Debut Discoveries mean to you?

It’s an honour! I am beyond thrilled to be in such company.

What are you looking forward to at the Festival?

Everything! Meeting people, soaking up the atmosphere!

What book(s) are you reading at the moment?

Les liaisons dangereuse by Choderlos de Laclos, and I’ve got a sort of monograph on the history of beheadings lined up to read next.

What advice would you give to those writing their own debuts?

I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times by better writers, but the clichés are true—read widely, write often and fast (to build momentum), get the first draft on paper, take criticism from people you trust, try not to use more words than necessary.

Book now to see Alice Winn talk In Memoriam with Claire Fuller at Hay Festival 2023 now.