An interview on ‘Unravelling’

Last week I had an interview for The Vale about the publication of Unravelling. The Vale is a monthly magazine distributed across the Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham with a circulation of 60,000 readers. Okay – it’s not millions, but it’s still the possibility of a lot of new people reading about my novel.

Maureen, the journalist who came to interview me, asked about how I came to write Unravelling and when and why I first started writing. It was interesting to be asked those questions and remember the beginnings of the novel which I started on my MA at Bath Spa University. Back then it was called ‘All That Remains’ – from the idea that whatever life throws at us, what counts in the end – what ‘remains’ – is LOVE.

It’s an idea that pays homage to Philip Larkin’s Arundel Tomb – ‘What survives of us is love’ and an idea taken from Plato’s Symposium – humans  were once made up two halves, one female, one male. The gods, out of jealousy, split them in two, and now we spend our lives looking for our other half, our ‘soul mate’.

It’s a notion prevalent in modern culture, and perhaps something we all yearn for. I wanted to explore the concept of a love that survives a lifetime despite separation, estrangement and betrayal. I was also interested in the differences between ‘young’ love and ‘old’ love and what forces shape love at different times in our lives.

But while I wanted to write about love, I certainly didn’t want to write a romantic novel in the the accepted sense.

My starting point was an article I read by the journalist Christa D’Souza. In this she described her parents’ remarriage in 2003 when they were 58 and 73, which awoke memories of their meeting and elopement in 1960. D’Souza wrote that her parents’ coming together again made her think of the pull of marriage, and my idea for the love affair at the heart of Unravelling was born.

In the intervening time, I have become so wrapped up in the complex business of writing the novel – who are my characters and how can I make them live? What are the intricacies of the plot? How do I deal with the time shifts? How do I structure it so that the sub-plot becomes an integral part of the main plot? and so on, and so on, issues that anyone who has written – or tried to write a novel – will understand, that I’ve almost forgotten that initial stimulus.

I’m grateful to Maureen, my journalist, for making me remember. Now I can’t wait for the publication of the magazine.

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