Thank you! This book is my wicked stepmother story – I’d read Barbara Comyns’ The Juniper Tree, also told from the perspective of a stepmother, and I’d been wondering and wondering how Comyns managed to find such a different (and yet wholly true) story within the original fairy tale. I still don’t know how she managed it so beautifully, but I found my own way into snow white by looking more closely at the ‘fairest of them all’ angle of the story.
2) Your novels often use doubles or reflections – and, of course, they appear often in Boy, Snow, Bird. Where do you get your interest in doubles in fiction?
I think doubles are probably just part of life – I don’t think it’s so much that I’m interested in them specifically, more that I just don’t exclude them from the story. Two sides or more to each and every part of a thought.
3) ‘Snow’ seems to be a play on ‘Snow White’, though your portrait of a stepdaughter/stepmother relationship is far more nuanced than that story, of course – how do fairytale and myth influence your writing?
I feel they address human psychology very directly, and on some level the way we tell and listen to/read them affects the way we understand our lives and how we respond to other people. the way a woman might approach being a stepmother or a mother, for example, is most likely influenced by stories she’s heard, and so on.
A friend who’s just read the book was asking me about the fact that characters I write eat meat and smoke (neither of which I happen to do) and he wondered if this was a way of vicariously enjoying these things, but I disagreed. After a certain point I find that characters mostly do what they want and don’t care that I’m vegetarian. So I’m sure snow had her reasons for not talking directly.
5) And finally, the question I like to ask everyone – what are you reading at the moment?
Victor Serge’s searing tragedy The Case of Comrade Tulayev… it’s so good- please read it.
Questions by Simon, one of Shiny New Books’ editors.