author of The Widow
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Born in Cambridge, UK and raised in the Fenlands of East Anglia, in a village called Burwell. Caught the bus every day to school – St Mary’s Convent, Cambridge – where I was taught by some inspirational women. From there I went to the Unversity of Warwick to study for a BA Hons in French and Theatre Studies.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
Journalist, journalist and journalist. It was all I wanted to do until I was 50 because it combined being able to ask questions of anyone, meeting people whose stories never leave you, travelling to unlikely places and writing. At 50 I was ready for something new and became a volunteer in Sri Lanka, working with reporters under threat.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I had one a day when I was 18. Too many to remember now.
This is such a difficult question – I love art, books, music, theatre and film and see, read and watch as much of them as I can. So, it is hard to pick out individual influences. However, Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome was the first proper book I read for myself (on a long car journey across Europe when I was about seven). It pulled me into another world where I could not be reached by my parents, anxious to point out the sights we were passing. Perhaps that was the start of everything.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
The worm of the story of The Widow ate away at me until I could no longer resist. And I couldn’t tell it any other way. Writing is what I do – I’ve earned my living from it since the day I joined the East Grinstead Observer in 1979 – and I am rubbish at painting.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Put simply, The Widow is a psychological thriller about a man accused of a terrible crime – the abduction of a child. But it isn’t that simple. The story is told by four people caught up in the drama.
Primarily, the narrative belongs to Jean, the widow of the accused, as she remembers her life and interprets the events that threaten everything – and everyone – she believed in. Woven through are the stories of the desperate search for a two-year-old child, told by the police officer in charge, the mother of the victim, and the journalist covering the story.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
A sense of having been there for the ride.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
There are so many authors who have touched and influenced me—I’ve been reading for more than 50 years! But most recently: Hilary Mantel (Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies) for the brilliance of her story-telling; Kate Atkinson (When Will There Be Good News? and Life After Life) for the characters and power of a story told by many; and John Irving (A Prayer for Owen Meany) for his sheer otherness.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
If I’d been a child prodigy or young literary Turk, my list of ambitions would probably turn to a second page but, with age, come all the things you might have wished for – family, career, chances, experiences. My ambition now is to write the two other books I’ve signed up to and enjoy the brilliant new adventure of being an author.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Stop making excuses and start today.
Du Maurier’s Rebecca meets We Need to Talk About Kevin and Gone Girl in this intimate tale of a terrible crime.
We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime. But what about the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs, the woman who stands by him?
Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of … Read More
About the Contributor
Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.