Hampstead writer Lynda Young Spiro talks casting Tilda Swinton in film of debut novel

Lynda Young Spiro

Lynda Young Spiro - Credit: Archant

As an artist who works with textiles, Lynda Young Spiro releases debut novel There is Always More to Say

As an artist who works with textiles, Lynda Young Spiro volunteered once a week at Fine Cell Work, a social project that trains prisoners in needlework.

Four years ago, she applied for a job she came across in the Ham&High as an examination invigilator. It was while overseeing students at Henrietta Barnett School that she became inspired to write.

“Everything changed all at once,” says Lynda. “As I sat in the exams, it gave me real head space.

There was no noise, there were no phones. The girls were really focused. I started reminiscing and when I got home I scribbled my thoughts down.”

After reading out her notes to a confidante who offered friendly encouragement, Lynda sought out a creative writing group and found a memoir writing class at the London Jewish Cultural Centre (now merged with JW3).

Although she enjoyed it and met “amazing” 101-year-old writing partner Kitty, she realised it wasn’t the right fit.

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“I was off-track, reading things out in class that weren’t true.”

Lynda found a publisher, set herself a year to create a work of fiction and embarked on a steep learning curve.

Billed as a cross between When Harry Met Sally and Before Sunrise, There is Always More to Say is the story of a couple and their love, happiness, loss and friendship.

Set in Soho in 1984, two people meet unexpectedly and form a connection.

Each chapter is bookended by inspirational quotes - “they just work, they tie it up” - in a book that was written non-sequentially and came together “like a jigsaw puzzle”.

This episodic writing process played a part in Lynda’s decision to leave the gender identities of the characters ambiguous.

“It made it easier for me that there was never a particular person.

To be honest, while I was writing, I saw the book as a film.”

Alluding to figures such as Andrej Pejic and Erika Linder, she explains: “I thought of those models where the men dress as women and the women as men.”

A bit like Tilda Swinton? “Yes!” Having portrayed Virginia Woolf’s gender-shifting Orlando, the Anglo-Scottish actor would be her dream casting.

The Channing School alumna was born in Hampstead and still lives there with her husband and two sons.

“I love my home. I’m Hampstead born and bred.”

She enjoys travelling, belly dancing, listening to Bowie and Prince and tap dancing with her octogenarian mother.

Brightly coloured clothes are another must. “That’s part of me. And I like to be surrounded by colour when I write because I find it inspiring.”

There is Always More to Say (New Generation Publishing) retails at £13.99 in hardback and £7.99 in paperback.