The 4thcoming series is all about introducing you to our authors. If you’ve ever wondered what your favourite 4th Estate author is currently reading, listening to or what their writing ritual is, then we’ve got all those answers for you.
Name: Lucy Hughes-Hallett
What’s it about? It is the 17th century and a wall is being built around a great house. Wychwood is an enclosed world, its ornamental lakes and majestic avenues planned by Mr Norris, landscape-maker. A world where everyone has something to hide after decades of civil war, where dissidents shelter in the forest, lovers linger in secret gardens, and migrants, fleeing the plague, are turned away from the gate.
Three centuries later, another wall goes up overnight, dividing Berlin, while at Wychwood, over one hot, languorous weekend, erotic entanglements are shadowed by news of historic change. A little girl, Nell, observes all. Nell grows up and Wychwood is invaded. There is a pop festival by the lake, a TV crew in the dining room and a Great Storm brewing. As the Berlin wall comes down, a fatwa signals a different ideological faultline and a refugee seeks safety in Wychwood.
What you’re listening to: Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice
Favourite word(s): Impossible question. Words are like colours, beautiful only in combination.
Favourite song: Save the Last Dance for Me. Or Be My Baby. Or Walk Away Renee. Or any of about five hundred others. I’m not much good at this choosing game. Songs are like colours and words. You need lots of them.
Your hero – literary or otherwise: Another one I can’t answer – I wrote a whole book about the folly of hero-worship.
The book you wish you’d written: The one I’m starting now. I love revising and editing, but writing the first draft is hard.
Writing ritual: Non-existent. I do like to have flowers on my desk, though.
Best advice ever received: I’m too stubborn to take advice.
Think of something beautiful: Morning
The most memorable sentence you’ve ever read: I can’t forget this, though I wish I could – spoken by John Webster’s guilty Cardinal, and absolutely terrifying:
When I look into the fish-ponds in my garden,
Methinks I see a thing arm’d with a rake,
That seems to strike at me.
Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of Peculiar Ground? I would have to, because – male or female, old or young – they’re all versions of me. Unfortunately I can’t act.
If you weren’t writing: I used to think I could be a taxi driver, because I’m good at map-reading and I like working out routes, but satnav has spoiled that form of fun.
Best place to write? In bed, in a spare room, when I wake up in the small hours.
Peculiar Ground is out on the 18th May 2017.
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