Questions & Answers
What personal experiences do you feel have informed your writing? Do you have a connection with or fondness for particular characters?
I think all of your personal experiences inform your writing in some way, because they make up who you are and who you are will determine how you write. Specifically, with regard to Adored, I drew a lot on my own experience of living in Hollywood and particularly the uglier, painful side of life there that I saw. I still live in Los Angeles for six months of the year and even after four years here I’m still struck by the contrast between the natural beauty of the place (the sunshine, the ocean, the canyons), and the inner ugliness of so many of the people, particularly in West Hollywood.
I love England so much. The more I travel, the more convinced I am that it is the best, most beautiful country in the world. But America has also played a big part in my life. My husband is American, although he has lived much of his adult life in London, and in a way I think we both have a love/hate relationship with American culture that probably comes through in the book. On the one hand I greatly admire American drive and dynamism and honesty. I probably also have a rather romantic, nostalgic view of American history: Nantucket, for example, is a magical place that I have always been drawn to write about. I use it in Adored as the setting for my heroine’s healing and redemption.
On the other hand, Los Angeles is a town that I associate with unhappiness, emptiness and the dark side of American life. Materialism, lust for fame and disappointment are all big themes in the book.
Clearly, my childhood in the Cotswolds was also an influence. Batcombe is an amalgam of the English villages of my childhood, places I associate with family, security and joy.
Other things that have influenced me: I’m very interested in the relationship between parents and children and in how different people are shaped by their different childhoods. My own upbringing was idyllically happy, and I grew up assuming that everyone had a loving supportive family like mine. The older you get, the more you realise that this isn’t true, and the more you come to appreciate how lucky you are. My husband had a very unhappy childhood, and experienced death, grief and abandonment very young. His mom died when he was ten and that one event shaped the whole of the rest of his life and adult personality. So I have become very interested in that and in children struggling to fulfil their parents’ expectations of them.