How does it feel to be nominated for the Booker Prize 2023, and what would winning the prize mean to you?
It feels unthinkable – impossible, even!
How long did it take to write Study for Obedience, and what does your writing process look like? Do you type or write in longhand? Are there multiple drafts or sudden bursts of activity? Is there a significant amount of research and plotting before you begin writing?
One of the many inefficiencies in the way I work is that I tend to approach things through the sound of a line – so it’s almost like catching a musical phrase, and then trying to follow the logic of its sound, rather than primarily its sense. Story tends to follow voice rather than the other way around. (I am hoping to find a better way to work in future). This time, I had been writing pieces that ended up forming the basis of the narrator’s voice and publishing them as poems or micro fiction for a few years before I realised they might be connected. Once I realised they were, and that they might be part of a longer project, I spent a couple of months reading widely and taking notes – which is usually how I start – and then once I had a basic idea of what the story might be, the rest didn’t take very long. A few more months of consistent work, maybe.
Where exactly do you write? What does your working space look like?
I work in the brightest room in my house, which is the front porch. It is usually a little bit too cold in the winter and a little bit too warm in the summer, but the windows look out onto the bay, so I can watch what’s happening with the weather and the sea life. I try to keep it tidy, but it’s also a growing and drying space, so right now it’s a bit crowded with tomato plants, their attendant flies, and a rack of curing onions.