As I tuck in five-year-old Pea alongside twelve-year-old Haoua, I’m hoping the grown-up protagonists of the other novels, like the anxious but hands-off adults in The Night Rainbow, will offer her something to eat. Yet, somehow, I don't think Futh will notice that Pea’s mother’s forgotten to feed her, and I’m really not sure how patient Grace would be with small children, but perhaps Satish could get his mother to rustle up some party food. I’ve read some of Pea’s interesting thoughts on food, but does she like chakli? I suppose he’d be willing to try anything, as long as Margot goes first.
loved the way I could make myself feel emotions with fiction I had written myself
his career unconsciously, as he would have done himself. The impetus for Gavin Weston’s novel was his concern about the fate of a girl his family had sponsored; its completion has driven him to take a more
active role in relation to the practice of child marriage by becoming an ambassador for FORWARD.
While we might expect writers to empathise with their child characters and/or those who have been treated unjustly, their empathy for their more prickly protagonists was also apparent:
As I listened to the voice and started to write the story down, I realized that Grace was not only unreliable, but manipulative as well. But I loved her, and perhaps that accounts for any sympathy she evokes. I think an author has to love his or her characters, even if the characters aren’t particularly likeable.
[Futh] isn’t really capable of leaving the past and the damage behind. It reminds me of having a bad dream and thinking you’ve woken up but you’re only dreaming you’ve woken up and in fact you’ve just shifted into the next strange part of the dream. He’s got a bit stuck. I realise he can be a bit pathetic and annoying, but I like him, I feel quite protective of him, even though ironically I'm responsible for all the dreadful things that happen to him, for blocking all his escape routes.
The more I wrote novels, the less I trusted my own righteousness, and the more prone I was to sympathising with people …
I’ll wind up with a song and movie clip on loving people warts and all – or perhaps shampoo and all – The Way You Look Tonight.
Do share your own views on writers’ empathy and/or any of the author interviews.
My next Q&A is with Harriet Lane, author of Alys Always. I haven’t yet finalised my questions, so if there’s anything you’re bursting to find out, let me know here.
I'm off now for a walk in the Peak District National Park, telling stories about the elephant-headed god, Ganesha. Hope to be able to share some of them with you soon.