Meet the writers: Ayisha Malik and Aea Varfis-van Warmelo

In the second part of our series showcasing local writers, we meet Ayisha Malik, whose recent novel is being adapted for television, and Aea Varfis-van Warmelo, a member of Southbank's New Poets Collective

Gita Ralleigh, Ayisha Malik, Aea Varfis-van Warmelo, Caroline Druitt and Joe Thomas. Collage by Dara Coker

Ayisha Malik

Ayisha Malik lives in Stoke Newington but is soon moving back south of the river, where she grew up. Her most recent novel, The Movement (2022), has been purchased by Red Production Company, the producers of It’s a Sin, and will be adapted into a television series.

Ayisha Malik. Pic: Ayisha Malik

Three words to describe the London writing scene?

Buzzy, frantic, rich.

What are you working on at the moment? 

Book number five, set in America with a road trip involved…

What book has left a lasting impression on you?

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series. To be read and re-read. What genius.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your writing? 

Anywhere and everywhere. It could be a whole debate or issue or simply a word that sparks the imagination, then the imagination runs away, and I try to catch up. 

How does your relationship with London influence your writing? 

Perhaps there is a subconscious element of being a part of something whole but also separate from the crowd that chimes with the writerly experience.

Where do you write?

My kitchen counter with my laptop on a stack of books, or a local café. I like the energy of being around people while writing, but without too much noise.

Aea Varfis-van Warmelo

Aea Varfis-Warmelo. Pic: Tom Flathers

Aea Varfis-van Warmelo is a British-Greek poet based in South London. She is part of Southbank’s New Poets Collective, as well as Barbican Young Poets. Her work has been featured in journals such as Tolka and Spam and she was shortlisted for The White Review’s Poetry Prize.

Three words to describe London’s writing scene?

Boozy, welcoming, unrelenting.

What are you working on at the moment?

A poetry collection about the apocalypse and a book-length essay on lying. These two obsessions dominate most of my writing and, unfortunately, conversations, so my caché as a dinner guest has diminished lately.

What book has left a lasting impression on you?

Recently, The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham.

How does your relationship with London influence your writing?

Frankly, London’s most substantial influence is how it completely distorts my sense of time. London gives me the space I need to think because it’s so big I have no choice but to spend hours of most days on the bus or tube. I’d get nothing done without that mental pause, I think. Otherwise, I’d say the accessibility of events, libraries, workshops and various vibrant and generous communities has been invaluable. 

Come back tomorrow to meet Caroline Druitt and Gita Ralleigh and follow our series, Reading Between the Lines, this week to read more about literature across our boroughs

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