The 2018 Man Booker prize winner said characters can just speak to her at any time and sometimes she just has the end of their sentences. However over time the work slowly pieces itself together and a novel emerges. She said she writes everything down, "and I don't really analyse it."
Although Milkman is loosely based on the Ardoyne area of Belfast, the location is never named. The characters do not have names either and Burns said when she experimented with names she felt it did not work.
She talked about her childhood growing up in Belfast and being known for always having a book in her hand. The Troubles form the back drop to much of her work, but many of the stories revolve around families and violence in the family and the impact that has on them. She said she has always written throughout her life but left Belfast in 1987 "to get sober."
f you are interested in event like this, please also see event 141 at 2.30pm on Monday. If you like watching Hay Festival events digitally please sign up to the Hay Player for more from the world’s greatest thinkers.
Picture by: Chris Athan