These days novels with overt or implicit supernatural themes are creating and increasingly popular field of fiction. My own novel An Englishwoman in France has at its centre a modern woman who sees the dead and can slip through time. It was fun to write as somewhere in my subconscious I feel I can do just this.
Carolyn talked about her novel The Guardian Angel’s Journal which is the story of Margo, who dies at forty two and returns to earth as Ruth to be her own Guardian Angel and encounters the possibility of making crucial changes change.
Carolyn’s reflections on her approach to writing this novel were satisfyingly pragmatic, not in the least airy-fairy or quasi religious; her affection for her her characters - Margo and her angelic alter ego Ruth - shines out in her discourse. making the supernatural propositions in the novel seem believable, even rational. No wonder this novel is being praised across continents, although perhaps the Americans’ promotion of it as a ‘Christian Novel’ is a bit reductive. A must to read, I think.
Beda Higgins the prizewinning North Eats writer read from her new collection Chameleon. The short story she read to us reflect her insight into a child’s point of view where reality and fantasy dissolve into each other and everyday playground experiences of a vulnerable little girl are processed in a dark surreal fashion that end up in near tragedy and what seems like a supernatural transformation of the little girl herself. Another ‘must’ to read.
There was a buzz in the room, and some interesting conversations. The people asked questions about our writing processes. I seems that we all work in different fashions but agreed that it was most important to write consistently – many days in sequence , to write opportunistically when the time to write emerges, and to have the story in your head even when you are not writing. I advocated separating the writing and the editing processes entirely. Carolyn Told a fascinating story of writing this novel at astonishing speed when an agent had seen the first fifty pages and liked it.
The writers in the room asked for our recommendations for inspiring books. These emerged:
Dorothea Brande: On Becoming a Writer
Walter Mosely: So This Is The Year You Write Your Novel
Stephen King: On Writing
A very good evening…