|Matador (1 Feb 2013)|
Where did you get the inspiration for The Second Footman?
I love the complexity of the nineteenth-century novel and the way its characters can't escape the demands of a society that has rigid rules about class, money, morality and etiquette. There's usually a frustrated love affair and an element of mystery too. It's a long, highly textured, satisfying read. So I decided to write one, but with a contemporary twist.
There's the mystery surrounding Max. Exactly what happened to him before he ended up in the orphan's dormitorium of a Normandy monastery? Who is The Other? And what is the fraud Max hopes to commit? But I hope the reader will be intrigued by both the two main characters. In another deviation from my nineteenth-century template, I don't do 'good' or 'bad' characters, because we're all more complex than that. So central to the novel is the idea that, unless you're a psychopath, it's actually just as difficult to be consistently ruthless as it is to be consistently virtuous.
Do you have a special place to do your writing?
A narrow little room like an old-fashioned railway compartment. I sit with my back to a wall of research books, facing a set of framed costume designs by an old friend who's a theatre designer. There is a window, but the view isn't great, so there ought to be no distractions. But of course there's the terrible lure of the internet - ordering washing-machine descaler seems irresistibly exciting when you're stuck for the right word. And then, when I'm motoring at last, I look up and see three pairs of aggrieved eyes - hungry cats, mobbing my computer. If I don't pack up and serve dinner they throw pens, eat post-it notes and chew books until I do.
Are you inspired by any particular era, author or book?
And finally a fun question....
If The Second Footman was optioned for a movie, who would you like to play Max and Armand?
Jasper - thank you so much for giving such insightful answers to our questions.
Jaffa and I will be following your career with great interest.