I recently had the opportunity to interview fellow word blogger, Grace Tierney, who writes about the origins and meanings of interesting words on her blog Wordfoolery. I hope that my readers find it as interesting as I do.
Q: How did you become interested in words and their origins?
A: “I grew up in a house filled with books and both my parents are crossword-addicts so a love of words was unavoidable. As a teen I encountered words like quiz (a word invented for a dare) and floccinocinilipilification (to make little of something) and became hooked.”
Q: How did the idea for your blog, Wordfoolery come about?
A: “The name for Wordfoolery comes from my nickname amongst friends – Fool (a reference to Terry Pratchett’s “Wyrd Sisters” novel, long story!) and I was fooling with words – hence Wordfoolery. I wanted to try out blogging, but noticed that most writers were blogging about being writers and I didn’t find that terribly interesting. History, to me, is endlessly interesting and I didn’t think I could ever run out of words to write about. The quirks of the English language have filled seven years of weekly blog posts so far.”
Q: How do you decide what word to post about? Do you keep a list of words you might use in the future or do you have more of an inspirational moment and just know when you find the right word?
A: Where possible I link the week’s word to what’s going on in my life, or in the world. I keep a list of words for future use and update it regularly from reader suggestions, emails from friends, books I’ve read etc. My friends are used to my pausing in mid-conversation to jot a word into my phone that someone has used or I’ve spotted on a sign/ad/t-shirt/whatever. At the moment, because I’m writing “How to Get Your Name Into the Dictionary” a book about the people behind eponyms (Louis Braille invented Braille, for example) I’m obsessing about eponyms and seeing them everywhere. I keep my eyes and ears open.
Q: Being a writer and a parent, how do you find time to maintain your blog?
A: I give one hour a week to my blog and it’s a pleasure. I try to post on Mondays, so it’s not unusual to find me posting at midnight after a busy day. Generally I write while my children are at school or asleep. The exception is my annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) adventure because of the sheer hours involved (I’m a mentor on NaNo, so I run events during the month as well as writing 50,000 words of my own book). My children tease me that they’re neglected every November. However they’re actually very supportive of my writing, especially if I write something for them. They suggest words for the blog.
Q: Who do you consider your literary inspiration?
A: JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” was the first book that really opened my eyes to great stories, but if I could only pick one I’d say Charles Dickens. He wrote amazing journalism, travel books, historic fiction, love stories, thrillers and everything had a strand of humour in it. I love his character names, the huge sense of place and his passion for social justice. YA and teen fiction didn’t exist when I was a young reader so I read his books from age eleven and I still re-read them regularly.
Grace Tierney is a writer, blogger and mother who lives in rural Ireland. She has had her work both fiction and nonfiction, published locally and internationally. Be sure to check out her blog Wordfoolery for awesome content and her website: http://www.gracetierney.com/ for more information about her and her work.