Up Close With: Phoebe Hancock

Meet the wonderful writers and patrons behind LWS.

Lauren McMenemy
London Writers’ Salon

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Sapphic vampires. Queer ancient Greeks. Cookies and micro-zines. Canada. What do all these things have in common? It’s only one of our newest writers hour hosts, Phoebe Hancock! This spritely Canadian student writes both YA fiction and academic papers, and has been known to show up on a conference stage every now and then. She says creating is her “natural state of being”, whether it’s writing, making clothes, baking — pretty much anything that involves bringing things to life. And it’s likely she’ll try to sneak a lesbian in, too.

Phoebe Hancock (she/her)

  • Aged 25 (with a birthday soon!)
  • Based in Ottawa, Canada
  • Student, YA novelist, and one of our newest Writers’ Hour hosts!

What do you write, in general?

A mix of everything, it feels: YA fiction, academic papers for school, presentations for conferences when I can.

What are you working on right now?

For fiction, I’m working on a lesbian vampires YA novel. It is a story meant to be read on those hot, restless, high summer nights when it is impossible to sleep and the full moon rises late, or in February, damp and dark, when the charm of winter has quite thoroughly worn off and you are longing for anything alive. It has turned out to be almost as much about gardening as it is about vampires. Take from that what you will.

I squeeze fiction in around schoolwork. I’m a Religious Studies student focusing on queerness and Early Christianity, which for the moment has meant a lot of my writing time is spent learning to translate Ancient Greek — if you see me in writer’s hour during the school year, I’m probably working my way through my 1.5kg brick of a textbook. My research is about how the lives and perceptions of queer women changed with the growth of Christianity. If you give me the slightest opening, I will start on about it and might not stop!

Where and when do you write?

The goal for 2023 is to write fiction in the morning at home, and then schoolwork in the mid-morning/afternoon. I often write at home in my living room, but I’m a big fan of going to cafes.

How do you write?

Computer for anything longer than a few sentences, in my notes app on my phone if I’m out on a walk or on the subway. By hand and with a fountain pen if it’s a language other than English or if I’m taking notes.

Why do you write?

I think I can’t not create. Making things is my natural state of being — it’s like a release. My head is constantly overflowing with anxiety/terror/love/wonder. If I can’t get words out, it’s something else. I made four dozen cookies in a stressed daze a few months ago. After my exams last year I tried to make a pair of stays without a pattern. Through it all I write, sometimes furiously, sometimes gently.

What inspires your creativity?

I… struggle with this one. Is it too broad to say ‘everything’? That feels far too vague. Like I’m hiding from the question. I’m inspired by possibilities might be closer to the truth. I love words and how they sound together in phrases. If I find a particularly good one, maybe one that’s a little esoteric, like it hasn’t been spoken by someone who isn’t either unbearably posh or trying to bulk up a term paper in a good century, I keep it in my head and play with it, turning the words around and seeing how it ticks. Is that an answer? Maybe not. I am also a fan of a good Pinterest board and a slice of homemade cake while I peruse it.

Phoebe is a prolific baker, but hasn’t yet figured out how to share the spoils through the Zoom screen

What’s your favourite book?

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Strange and wild and tender.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?

The one that comforts me: The first draft is for being a terrible writer.

The one that lights a fire under me, from Maggie Stiefvater’s twitter: “Death comes for us all. Is your chapter done?”

What’s the one thing you would tell other/aspiring writers?

Everything you write will look awful to you. The flaws will seem unbearable. Trust people when they tell you it’s beautiful.

How can we discover more about you and your work?

Beyond the screen, the snowy scenes of a Canadian winter

✍️ Write with Phoebe and hundreds of other writers each weekday at Writers’ Hour (it’s free).

Connect with fellow writers and build a successful, creative career with London Writers’ Salon.

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Lauren McMenemy
London Writers’ Salon

Weird girl in the corner | Gothic & Folk Horror Writer | Writing Coach | Trainer & Facilitator | Mental Health Advocate | wherelaurenwrites.com | 👻🧛‍♀️🔮😈