Sarah Hall studied English at Aber, graduating in 1995. Now she writes prize-winning novels such as Haweswater and The Electric Michelangelo. She also freelances, and has been commissioned to write for national papers and the radio, as well as contributing to fiction anthologies. Her most recent novel is The Wolf Border (2015), was shortlisted for The Southbank Sky Arts Awards and the James Tate Memorial Black prize, and won the 2015 Cumbria Life Culture Awards 'Writer of the Year' prize. Sarah is also an honorary fellow of Aberystwyth University.
What do you remember most about your time at Aber?
I remember the sea at Aberystwyth. I lived for two of the three years I was a student there in the seafront halls of residence, and the percussion of the waves sort of indelibly entered my brain, I think. I used to love watching the birds swooping in and out of the pier. And listening to the hubbub of people heading in and out of the pubs. Most of all I loved the sudden view of the town and the sea from the top of the hill when you are driving in - it still takes my breath away whenever I visit. Aberystwyth is such a beautiful place, truly atmospheric. I also remember the passionate advocates of English Literature and Art History at the university. Both departments had some firecracker lecturers. A few are still there!
What are you doing now career-wise and how has your Aberystwyth Degree helped?
I'm now a full time writer. I've written five novels and several short stories. Aberystwyth was the first place I studied creative writing. It was a revelation. When I read back through the books now I can see that a lot of my literary preoccupations - artistic and political - can be broadly traced back to what I was studying.
What advice would you have for a student doing your course now?
My advice to students studying English or Art History now would be, just enjoy it, enjoy exercising your brain in such a great setting. And don't necessarily worry about the direct application of what you are studying. The subjects and ideas encountered will undoubtedly lead to future interests and rewards - even if those can't be predicted yet. I've taught and read in a variety of universities and further education establishments. I have yet to encounter one that makes me even remotely speculate about whether Aberystwyth was the right choice of venue for my degree.